When: Friday, February 7th to Saturday, February 8th
Where: Sala Polivalenta Cluj-Napoca in Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Surface: Hard (Indoor)
Head to Head Record: 0-0
The Fed Cup is changing its format for the 2020 edition of the tournament.
The WTA’s team competition will shift to a new set of rules that closely resembles the new Davis Cup.
A win here seals a spot in the 2020 Fed Cup Finals, set for April in Budapest.
Surprisingly, despite the history and tradition, Romania and Russia had never faced each other before.
Team nomination: Ana Bogdan, Irina Maria Bara, Elena Gabriela Ruse, Jaqueline Adina Cristian, Raluca Olaru
Romania’s most notable absence is, of course, two-time major champion and former WTA number 1 Simona Halep.
Having made it to the Australian Open semifinals, the team’s star player will understandably forego the competition for some additional rest.
This, however, deals a significant blow to Romania’s chances, given that Halep would likely be relied on to win at least two matches.
Sorana Cirstea, who holds the second-best rank among Romanian players at number 74, won’t play.
As a result, the team will feature a number of ITF regulars.
Romania had a very good showing in 2019, taking eventual champions Team France to the decisive fifth match in the semifinals.
None of the five players has ever won a singles title at the WTA level.
Raluca Olaru, with nine WTA Tour doubles titles, is the leading player for the squad.
In singles, WTA Tour veteran Ana Bogdan holds the highest rank at number 98.
Lacking in star power, it’s fair to say that this is going to be a bit of an uphill climb for Team Romania, even when factoring in the home-ground advantage.
?? Romania vs Russia ??
Ruse vs Alexandrova
Bogdan vs Kudermetova
Bogdan vs Alexandrova
Ruse vs Kudermetova
— Fed Cup (@FedCup) February 6, 2020
Team nomination: Ekaterina Alexandrova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Veronika Kudermetova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anna Kalinskaya
Team Russia, on the other hand, brings its top players to action.
The roster has a good mix of experienced and young players.
Ekaterina Alexandrova, number 25 in the WTA ranking, leads the squad.
She is joined by a reliable pair of veterans in Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and four-time slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Youngsters Veronika Kudermetova and Anna Kalinskaya complete the lineup.
While this isn’t one of the star-filled lineups from the last decade, it’s a very balanced roster, featuring three players from the WTA’s top 50.
Russia could finally make it back to the World Group.
The team enjoyed a dominant run of four titles in four years between 2004 and 2008.
From 2009 to 2015, the team reached the semifinals six times in seven years, finishing as the runner-up in 2011, 2013 and 2015.
After this success, Russia endured a frustrating sequence, which saw it fall all the way down to the Regional Groups in 2019.
The team has since bounced back and won its four matchups to secure a spot in the World Group Qualifying.
Since this is the first meeting between the two teams, there aren’t any numbers available for comparison.
However, Russia features a much better lineup on paper, while Romania is missing its best players.
While the home-ground advantage could play a factor, it’s hard to imagine this team taking more than one match from Russia.
Final score prediction: Russia 3-1.
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