LOS ANGELES, November 18, 2004 —
The Tennis Channel, a 24-hour cable television network devoted to tennis and other racquet sports, concludes its exclusive coverage of the 2004 women’s Fed Cup season with complete, live telecasts of all the semifinal and final-round action in Moscow Nov. 24-28, a combined 30 hours of championship tennis. The announcement was made today by Bruce Rider, executive vice president, programming and marketing, The Tennis Channel.
This year’s Fed Cup semifinals feature France against Spain and Russia against Austria. The matches will include several of the upper-echelon stars in the women’s game today, among them five players who qualified for either singles or doubles competition at the year-end WTA Tour Championships in Los Angeles last week, which is participated in by only the world’s top-eight singles players and top-four doubles teams. These five are Anastasia Myskina, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Vera Zvonareva, Virginia Ruano Pascual and Elena Likhovtseva.
“Next to the Grand Slams, Fed Cup is as important and prestigious an event as there is in tennis around the world,” said Rider. “Two thousand four has been the year of the Russian women. It’s only fitting that their Fed Cup team is in the semifinals. Everyone on the team is a highly ranked singles or doubles player, and it should be especially exciting to see how they perform in front of a friendly crowd in Moscow.”
The International Tennis Federation’s annual Fed Cup competition is the premier national team event in women’s tennis. Sixteen teams qualify to compete for the Fed Cup, from a field of 80 nations. The season unfolds in a yearlong tournament, beginning with the first round in late April and concluding with the final in late November or early December. Each round of Fed Cup play consists of a best-of-five-match “tie,” a two-day competition that puts one nation against another for the right to advance in the tournament. Fed Cup ties are made of two singles matches the first day, and two singles and one doubles match the second day. The nation that wins at least three of the five matches wins the tie and advances to the next round, ultimately culminating in the Fed Cup championship.
All 2004 Fed Cup semifinal and final matches will be played on indoor carpet at the 5,200-seat Ice Stadium Krylatskoe in Moscow. The site is Moscow’s premier tennis venue, and plays host to the WTA Tour’s high-profile Kremlin Cup tournament each fall, competed in by most of the tour’s top-ranked players.
Live semifinal coverage begins Wednesday, Nov. 24, at 3 a.m. ET, with the first singles match between France and Spain, the two top-ranked nations in women’s tennis. The French squad will try to defend the Fed Cup championship it won against the United States last year in Moscow. The team comes into the semifinals led by Mary Pierce, a former French Open and Australian Open winner. Rounding out the squad is two-time Olympian Nathalie Dechy and 16-year-old rising-star Tatiana Golovin. Team captain Guy Forget leads France in its quest for its second Fed Cup in as many years, and third overall.
Standing in France’s way is Spain, and the world’s No. 1-ranked doubles player, Virginia Ruano Pascual. In 2004 Ruano Pascual won Australian Open, French Open and US Open doubles titles, in addition to three other championships. She’s joined in Moscow by Anabel Medina Garrigues, who swept the singles and doubles championships in Palermo, Italy, in July, and Maria Sanchez Lorenzo, who competed on Spain’s Olympic team this summer. Marta Marrero rounds out Spain’s roster, a list captained by Miguel Margets. Spain last captured the Fed Cup in 1988, its fifth championship overall.
Russia brings a quartet of champions and championship-caliber stars to its semifinal tie against Austria, the first match set for Wednesday, Nov. 24, at 9 a.m. ET. All four Russian players qualified for the WTA Tour Championships in Los Angeles this year. Anastasia Myskina, Vera Zvonareva and Svetlana Kuznetsova each earned a trip to the year-end singles competition, while Kuznetsova also made it to the doubles tournament, paired with remaining Fed Cup member Elena Likhovtseva. Moreover, Myskina and Kuznetsova also found Grand Slam success in 2004, winning French Open and US Open singles titles this summer, respectively. Russia is led by captain Shamil Tarpischev and seeks its first Fed Cup title.
Austria reached the Fed Cup semifinals this year via its quarterfinal upset of the United Sates, last year’s runner up. It was the second upset over the U.S. team in the past three years. Alfred Tesar is the Austrian captain, and leads Sybille Bammer, Yvonne Meusburger, Patricia Wartusch and Daniela Kix against its Russian opponent. With a win Austria will earn its first trip to the Fed Cup final.
Fed Cup semifinal winners will meet in the championship final during the weekend, Nov. 27-28. The first match is set for Saturday, Nov. 27, at 5 a.m. ET. More Fed Cup information can be found at http://www.fedcup.com.
The Tennis Channel’s 2004 Fed Cup Championship Coverage (all times EST):
Nov. 24-25 Fed Cup Semifinals
Complete, live coverage, France vs. Spain
Wednesday, Nov. 24 – 3 a.m.-7 a.m.
Thursday, Nov. 25 – 2 a.m.-8 a.m.
Complete, live coverage, Russia vs. Austria
Wednesday, Nov. 24 – 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 25 – 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Nov. 27-28 Fed Cup Championship Final
Complete, live coverage, France/Spain winner vs. Russia/Austria winner
Saturday, Nov. 27 – 5 a.m.-9 a.m.
Sunday, Nov. 28 – 5 a.m.-11 a.m.
The Tennis Channel (www.thetennischannel.com ) is the cable television network devoted to tennis and other racquet sports, and provides unparalleled coverage of the game, its elite championships and its superstar athletes. The network’s comprehensive coverage includes telecasts of the US Open Series, ATP Masters Series, top-tier WTA Tour championship competitions, Davis Cup by BNP Paribas, Fed Cup and Hyundai Hopman Cup. The Tennis Channel also showcases instruction from the finest teachers, legendary matches, in-depth profiles of the greatest players, analysis and news, the latest on equipment, and tennis getaways.