World number one women's tennis player Amelie Mauresmo leads France against Italy, while Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne lead Belgium against Russia in the Fed Cup quarterfinals Saturday and Sunday.
In Nancy, France, Mauresmo looks to lead her team back to the title it last captured in 2003. The best-of-five match series opens with Nathalie Dechy facing Francesca Schiavone, while Mauresmo plays Flavia Pennetta in the second singles. Mauresmo teams with Emilie Loit in the doubles against Mara Santangelo and Roberta Vinci.
Meanwhile in Liege, Belgium, Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters will play singles indoors. The two players led Belgium to its only Fed Cup title in 2001. Clijsters takes on Russian Elena Dementieva, while Henin-Hardenne faces world number five Nadia Petrova in the singles. The winner of this series faces either the United States or Germany.
The U.S. team is not as strong as previous years with both Williams sisters (Venus and Serena) and Lindsay Davenport out with injuries. The Americans will rely on Jill Craybas, Jamea Jackson and little-known Shenay Perry and Vania King. They will play against host Germany outdoors in Ettenheim against Anna-Lena Groenefeld, Julia Kruff, Martina Muller and Sandra Kloesel.
Spain hosts Austria in Valencia with the winner facing the France-Italy winner. Anabel Medina Garriguez, the world number 24, is the highest ranked player on the Spanish squad. She will play Ivonne Meusberger as Spain seeks to reach the semifinals for the third straight year.
All of the best-of-five match series are being played on clay. The Fed Cup semifinals are scheduled for July 15 and 16. The Fed Cup finals are scheduled for September 16 and 17.
Some information for this report was provided by AP.