PARIS – The United States aim to prove again that they can thrive without Serena and Venus Williams when they tackle France for a place in a second consecutive Fed Cup final this weekend.
In 2017, the US won the tournament for the 18th time with a nerve-racking 3-2 victory over Belarus which was only decided in the last doubles rubber when CoCo Vandeweghe and Shelby Rogers claimed the winning point.
The Williams sisters did not feature in that final in Minsk but they returned to national colours in February this year in a first round victory over the Netherlands which set-up this weekend's clash in France.
“I’m very confident that we can make it to another final,” Vandeweghe told fedcup.com ahead of the tie on indoor clay at Aix-en-Provence.
“We have a lot of depth in our squad. From the singles players to the doubles, I think we have come together really well.”
The American team boast world number nine and US Open champion Sloane Stephens, 13th-ranked Madison Keys, Vandeweghe, who is at 16 in the rankings, and doubles specialist Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
France, two-time Fed Cup champions, will be led by world number 20 Kristina Mladenovic but other team members Pauline Parmentier and Amandine Hesse are a modest 122 and 204 respectively.
Vandeweghe is on a 13-match win streak in the Fed Cup and has not been defeated in three years in the tournament.
“The Fed Cup has been extremely important for me both as a player and a person,” said the 26-year-old New Yorker. “It's my number one priority to play for my country.”
The US have won 11 of 13 Fed Cup meetings against France. However, the French have won two of the nations’ most recent three meetings.
In the other semi-final, Germany host 10-time champions Czech Republic on clay in Stuttgart.
Germany have only beaten the Czechs once in eight meetings and that was back in 1987 in Vancouver.
Germany feature world number 11 Julia Georges and 12th-ranked Angelique Kerber, a former two-time Grand Slam champion.
However, the Czechs boast similar firepower with world number six Karolina Pliskova and 10th-ranked Petra Kvitova, a double Wimbledon champion, leading the challenge in the singles.
The Czech squad are bidding to reach the final for the sixth time in the last eight years.