MONTREAL – Tennis Canada announced on Wednesday that Carol Zhao (Richmond Hill, Ont.), Bianca Andreescu (Mississauga, Ont.), Katherine Sebov (Toronto) and Gabriela Dabrowski (Ottawa) were selected by captain Sylvain Bruneau to face Romania in the Fed Cup World Group II first round tie, which will take place Feb. 10 and 11 at the Sala Polivalenta Cluj-Napoca, in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
“Although we have a relatively young team for this important tie, we are confident that we can compete with the best nations in the world. Our players have demonstrated their tenacity and desire to win, especially last April when they beat a higher ranked and more experienced Kazakh team,” Bruneau said. “All the girls on the team had standout 2017 seasons and are looking to continue their success on the courts in Romania. We are aware of the tough task ahead, as we prepare to face a very skilled opponent.”
Zhao, the highest-ranked Canadian singles player on the team (No. 143), will be playing in only her second Fed Cup tie, her lone appearance coming in 2016 against Belarus. The young Canadian moved up more than 300 spots in the WTA rankings last year while also taking home the biggest title of her career at the $100,000 Shenzhen Challenger in China. Zhao is a former standout NCAA player at Stanford University, where she was ranked No. 1 on the NCAA Division I preseason rankings in 2015.
Andreescu will be competing in her sixth Fed Cup tie, where she holds a record of 7 wins and only 1 loss. The 17-year-old Canadian is coming off a career year in 2017, which saw her claim two junior Grand Slam doubles titles, make her Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon and be named WTA Breakthrough of the Month for July following her run to the quarter-finals in Washington, eliminating world no. 13 Kristina Mladenovic along the way. Currently ranked no. 182, Andreescu earned the clinching win over Kazakhstan in the World Group II play-off last year.
Sebov will be representing Canada at Fed Cup for a fifth tie, having been a member of the team during the Americas Zone Group I play-off and the World Group II play-off in 2017. Last summer, she played in her first final on the ITF Pro Circuit at the Granby National Bank Challenger, notably eliminating the tournament’s top seed, compatriot Bianca Andreescu, in the second round.
Currently ranked world no. 11 in doubles, Dabrowski is playing in her 10th Fed Cup tie. Last year, she made history by becoming the first Canadian woman to win a Grand Slam when she captured the mixed doubles title at the French Open in June. Last weekend, she doubled her Grand Slam title count when she was crowned mixed doubles champion at the Australian Open. Her career-best 2017 season culminated in her qualification for the season-ending WTA Finals as one of the Top 8 doubles teams in the WTA. She holds six career doubles titles, one of which she won earlier this year in Australia.
Canada will face Romania for the third time in Fed Cup history, with Romania winning both ties in 1983 and more recently in 2015. Romania will be the seeded nation in the upcoming tie by virtue of its rank of no. 11 in the Fed Cup rankings – Canada is 14th. The winner of this tie will book a spot in the World Group play-off, while the loser will have to take part in the World Group II play-off to maintain their place in World Group II for 2019.
The Canadian team is competing in the World Group II for the first time since February 2016. The nation’s best results in Fed Cup have been reaching the semifinals in 1988 and the quarterfinals on three occasions, in 1964, 1967 and 1987.
In their World Group II play-off tie last April, Romania was represented by Simona Halep, Irina-Camelia Begu, Monica Niculescu and Sorana Cirstea.
Fed Cup by BNP Paribas is the largest annual team competition in women’s sport, with 98 countries participating in 2018. The competition is 55 years old, having been founded in 1963.
Feb. 10, starting at 1 p.m., local time (6 a.m. ET)
Two singles matches
Player 1 from Canada vs. Player 2 from Romania
Player 2 from Canada vs. Player 1 from Romania
Feb. 11, starting at noon local time (5 a.m. ET)
Two singles matches followed by a doubles match
Player 1 from Canada vs. Player 1 from Romania
Player 2 from Canada vs. Player 2 from Romania
Doubles team from Canada vs. Doubles team from Romania
*The official draw on Feb. 9 will determine the weekend matchups. All matches are best-of-three sets. If the tie has already been decided after the first three matches (3-0), there will be no fourth singles match and the doubles match will be played instead using the best-of-3 format with no advantage and a third set super tiebreak (first to 10 points). If the tie is decided after the first four matches (3-1), the doubles match will be played using the best-of-three format with no advantage and a third set super tiebreak (first to 10 points).