06.02.2020; Biel; TENNIS – Tennis Fed Cup – Schweiz – Kanada; Official Draw

Fed Cup just got more exciting. Team Canada takes on Switzerland this weekend (February 7 and 8) in a Qualifiers clash with a place in the inaugural Finals on the line.

Qualifiers? Finals? This all seems new – and that’s ‘cause it is!

Canadian tennis fans won’t be unfamiliar with the new model. It’s similar to the revamped Davis Cup format that was introduced in 2019. It certainly seemed to suit Team Canada who made it all the way to the final in Madrid where they were beaten by Rafael Nadal’s Spain.

Heidi El Tabakh’s team – consisting of Bianca Andreescu, Gaby Dabrowski, Genie Bouchard and Leylah Annie Fernandez – is one of 16 nations competing in the newly-dubbed ‘Qualifiers’. The Qualifiers pool is comprised of the two losing semi-finalists, four World Group Play-Off winners, four World Group Play-Off losers, four World Group II Play-Off winners and two highest-ranked World Group II losers from 2019.

They all face-off in the traditional best-of-five-rubbers format this week with the winners advancing to the Finals in Budapest in April. Already qualified for the Finals are last year’s finalists, France (champion) and Australia, as well as the host nation, Hungary. A wildcard will also be selected to make up the 12-team roster.

Team Canada captain El Tabakh commented: “The new format is really exciting for Fed Cup and the teams competing in it. We saw firsthand how entertaining and competitive a format like this can be when we watched our Davis Cup team reach the final in Madrid last year. We hope we can have similar success in Fed Cup in 2020.”

The teams that lose their ‘Qualifiers’ ties will drop down into the ‘Play-Offs’, which are contested at the same time as the Finals but using the traditional ‘home and away’ format. Making up the rest of the Play-Offs are the winning Regional Group I nations.

Lose in the Play-Offs and you drop down to the Regional Groups for next year’s Fed Cup.

Don’t miss Team Canada’s Qualifiers tie against Switzerland on Friday and Saturday at the Swiss Tennis Arena in Biel. Watch in English on Sportsnet One and in French on TVA Sports.