2021 Billie Jean King Cup nation preview: USA
THE WTA Tour’s most prestigious team event is less than a month away, and Draft Central is counting down the days until it kicks off by previewing each team individually. Starting with the lowest ranked nation through to the highest one, we take a look at each squad, their fixtures, and what they might be able to achieve at the event.
Captain: Kathy Rinaldi
vs. Slovakia | November 2
vs. Spain | November 3
The United States is the team of the potential. Loaded with a nice lot of singles and fair doubles players, it has serious potential to restore its name as one of the world’s superpowers in tennis. Whilst Serena Williams is still struggling with injury and young guns Sofia Kenin and Coco Gauff are unavailable, the five-player team in particular from a singles sense, is strong enough to make some waves at the Billie Jean King Cup. Copping Slovakia in the Group stage also helps, with the first up match one of the weaker opponents, before having to take on the dangerous Spain led by Garbine Muguruza. It means that the latter contest will decide which team advances to the semi-finals, though the United States will be the favourites.
Looking at the United States, Pegula will be given the honour of top seed, and she has certainly had a fantastic 2021, going deep in many of the major tournaments with a 36-18 record. She reached a quarter final at the Australian Open and most recently a semi-final at the Montreal 1000 Masters event, where she defeated Collins and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on her way to the last four. Her start to the year was outstanding too, defeating Victoria Azarenka and Elina Svitolina and Melbourne Park, and Karolina Pliskova in Qatar on her way to the final. Whilst she has not been able to win a title in 2021, she has really improved her ranking from 64th at season’s start to 24th now.
Collins is only a spot behind in 25th, and will be a difficult second seed, taking on the lower-ranked Kristina Kucova and Paula Badosa of whom she should beat both. US Open winner Stephens is on standby and could step in if required, with the doubles weaker than expected without any of the four Top 20 doubles players. The combination of Dolehide (29th) and Pegula (46th) is the strongest pairing, with Vandeweghe out at 154th as the next highest playing at the event. They are tipped to top the group, though Spain will be the huge threat in their group.
Prediction: 1st in Group C
Picture credit: Jimmie48/WTA