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Keys, McHale to lead off for U.S. Fed Cup team vs. Australia

April 15, 2016 11:01 AM

By Jackie Finn, USTA.com

The U.S. Fed Cup team continues its quest to return to the World Group in 2017 this weekend in a matchup against Australia, with Madison Keys and Christina McHale leading things off. 

World No. 25 Keys, the United States’ No. 1 singles player for the tie, will lead off on Saturday against Australia’s No. 2 player, Daria Gavrilova, ranked No. 39 in the world. Keys and Gavrilova, who was born in Russia but became eligible to compete for Australia just last month, have not met on the WTA tour but did play as juniors in 2009 at the Orange Bowl; Keys won that match, 6-3 4-6 6-3.

The second singles match on Saturday will feature McHale, ranked No. 57 in the world, versus Australia’s top player, former US Open Champion and world No. 26 Samantha Stosur. Stosur holds a 4-0 advantage over the American. 

In Sunday’s reverse singles, Keys is scheduled to face Stosur, with McHale set to take on Gavrilova. In the doubles match, world No. 36 CoCo Vandeweghe and world No. 3 doubles player in Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who recently teamed to win the doubles in Indian Wells, are set to take on the Australian pair of Stosur and Casey Dellacqua.

The best-of-five match tie will take place on an outdoor clay court in Pat Rafter Arena at the Queensland Tennis Centre, the site of the ATP and WTA’s Brisbane International in January.

The singles and doubles lineups for Sunday can be changed by the team captains prior to Sunday’s play.

“I think both sides are very strong," Keys said at a press conference ahead of the tie. “Obviously, I’m really confident in our team, we’ve all worked really hard and we’re a really good support system. So I think we have a very good shot for this weekend.”

Australia is a familiar opponent for the U.S. – the two countries have met a total of 13 times in the international team competition, with the U.S. holding an 8-5 advantage. Ten of those meetings came in the final with a Fed Cup title on the line. 

The winner of this tie advances to the World Group in 2017, with a chance to compete for next year's Fed Cup championship. The losing nation will compete in World Group II next year. 

Tennis Channel will air live daily coverage on Saturday at 11 a.m. local Brisbane time (9 p.m. ET Friday in the U.S.) and Sunday at 11 a.m. local time (Saturday, 9 p.m. ET ).

Photo: Team USA and Team Australia gather on court in Brisbane.