The tie is held in Eilat for the second straight year, after a very successful event in 2011 (you can read my impressions of it here), which included 4 top-15 players at the time - Wozniacki, Azarenka, Radwanska, Peer.
This year the list is slightly less star-filled, since Belarus was promoted (and will play against the USA with Serena Williams), and Denmark was relegated. However, the tournament still features quite a lot of top-100 players.
The countries that will participate, and some of their players, are:
- Austria (Tamira Paszek, Patricia Mayr-Achleitner)
- Bulgaria (Tsvetana Pironkova)
- Sweden (Johanna Larsson, Sofia Arvidsson)
- Greece (Eleni Daniilidou)
- Netherlands (Arantxa Rus, Michaella Krajicek)
- Great Britain (Elena Baltacha, Anne Keothavong, Heather Watson, Laura Robson, and the captain Judy Murray)
- Israel (Shahar Peer, Julia Glushko, Keren Shlomo, Deniz Khazaniuk)
- Portugal (Michelle Larcher De Brito)
- Poland (Agnieszka Radwanska, Urszula Radwanska)
- Romania (Monica Niculescu, Irina Begu, Simona Halep, Alexandra Dulgheru)
- Croatia (Petra Martic)
You can find the full list of players on the Fed Cup site.
In each pool, every two countries will compete against each other, with the winners of pool A and pool C playing each other and the winners of pools B and D playing each other for promotion.
The official order of play was released today. Every day has a day session (3 matches, pools A and D, starts at 8:00 GMT) and a night session (4 matches, pools B and C, starts at 14:00 GMT). Israel will play every night on the center court, which has a relatively large crowd capacity. I'm guessing that Poland will play all its matches on this court during the day session.
Here's the order of matches (with local times, which are GMT+2):
|Wed, Feb 1||Thu, Feb 2||Fri, Feb 3||Sat, Feb 4|
|Pool A (10:00)||Estonia - Bulgaria||Estonia - Austria||Austria - Bulgaria||Playoffs|
|Pool D (10:00)||Poland - Luxembourg||Poland - Croatia||Poland - Romania|
|Pool D (10:00)||Romania - Croatia||Romania - Luxembourg||Croatia - Luxembourg|
|Pool C (16:00)||Netherlands - Israel||Netherlands - G. Britain||G. Britain - Israel|
|Pool C (16:00)||G. Britain - Portugal||Israel - Portugal||Netherlands - Portugal|
|Pool B (16:00)||Sweden - Bosnia-Herz.||Sweden - Hungary||Sweden - Greece|
|Pool B (16:00)||Hungary - Greece||Greece - Bosnia-Herz.||Hungary - Bosnia-Herz.|
I will be attending the tournament in person from start to finish, so let me know if you want pics/info about specific players or matches!