Kharkiv, Ukraine – This week's Fed Cup playoff between the United States and host Ukraine will commence Saturday with a singles rubber between American teenager Christina McHale and Lesia Tsurenko.
Former No. 1 star and current world No. 9 Serena Williams leads team USA and will play in Saturday's second opening singles bout against 17-year-old 171st- ranked Ukrainian Elina Svitolina.
The best-of-five tie will be staged on red clay at Superior Golf & Spa Resort on Saturday and Sunday.
Sunday's action in Kharkiv will pit the 13-time Grand Slam singles champion and 2011 U.S. Open runner-up Williams against the 110th-ranked Tsurenko and the 19-year-old McHale versus Svitolina, while the tie-closing doubles affair has Americans Liezel Huber and Sloane Stephens facing a Ukrainian sister duo of Lyudmyla and Nadiya Kichenok.
The 30-year-old Williams is a perfect 6-0 lifetime in her Fed Cup singles matches, and 9-0 overall in the prestigious international team competition, including doubles.
Mary Joe Fernandez is the American captain, while Igor Dernovskyi guides team Ukraine.
This matchup will mark the first-ever meeting between the 17-time Fed Cup champion U.S. and Ukraine. The winner will advance to the 2013 World Group and have a chance to compete for the Fed Cup title next year. The loser will be relegated to World Group II next year.