US Open quarterfinalist Melanie Oudin leads Americans into semis
  | By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff

The Tennis Channel will provide exclusive live coverage of the U.S. Fed Cup semifinal against Russia in Birmingham, Ala., this weekend, with telecasts Saturday, April 24, and Sunday, April 25. The competition between the 2009 Fed Cup runner-up Americans and Russia will consist of two singles matches on Saturday, followed by two singles matches and the doubles match Sunday. Tennis Channel will carry all matches live, beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET each day, followed by same-day encore coverage each evening.

Coverage from Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex Arena is as follows (all times ET):
Saturday, April 24
2:00 p.m............Live Singles #1
4:00 p.m............Live Singles #2
7:00 p.m............Instant Encore Singles #1
9:00 p.m............Instant Encore Singles #2

Sunday, April 25
2:00 p.m............Live Singles #3
4:00 p.m............Live Singles #4
6:00 p.m............Live Doubles
9:00 p.m............Instant Encore Singles #3
11:00 p.m..........Instant Encore Singles #4
1:00 a.m............Instant Encore Doubles

The United States and Russia have faced each other seven times in Fed Cup play, with the Americans holding a 4-3 advantage. Russia has reached the Fed Cup semifinal round against the United States on three occasions-- 2005, 2007 and 2008--and eventually went on to win the Cup each time. This will be the sixth time the Russian team has reached the semifinals in the past seven years. The United States enters this weekend’s matchup after defeating France 4-1 in Lievin, France, to reach the Fed Cup semifinals for the sixth consecutive year. The United States has been crowned Fed Cup champions 17 times, the most recent in 2000 when it defeated Russia 5-0 in Las Vegas.

After leading the 2009 U.S. Fed Cup team to its first final appearance since 2003, retired tennis star Mary Joe Fernandez will return for her second year as team captain. Melanie Oudin joins the 2010 Fed Cup team again this season after an impressive US Open performance in 2009. She defeated 2008 Olympic gold medalist Elena Dementieva and former world number one-ranked Maria Sharapova during the tournament to become the youngest American to reach the US Open quarterfinals since 1999. She enters this weekend’s match after reaching her first semifinal of a WTA Tour event this year at the Paris Open and the quarterfinals in both Memphis and Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who won three Sony Ericsson WTA Tour doubles titles last year is also on the team, as is doubles specialist Liezel Huber, who holds four Grand Slam titles and recently reached the finals of the Australian Open. The fourth roster spot has not been announced.

Russia, which has clinched the Fed Cup trophy four times since 2004, enters this weekend’s matchup after defeating Serbia 3-2 in Belgrade. The Russian team is captained by Shamil Tarpischev and features world number six-ranked Elena Dementieva, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Ekaterina Makarova and Alexandra Kudryavtseva.

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