France skipper Benneteau names squad for Billie Jean King Cup

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France captain Julien Benneteau on Tuesday named his squad for the 12-team Billie Jean King Cup to take place in Prague next month.

France, who won the trophy when it was called the Fed Cup, will play in Group A against Russia and Canada.

The defending champions will feature Caroline Garcia, Alizé Cornet and Fiona Ferrero who all played in the 2019 triumph as well as Clara Burel.

"We're going with four players instead of five because there hasn't been much time for preparation," said Benneteau.

"We haven't met up as a team for two years since winning the Fed Cup and we thought this would be the most efficient way to do things."

Australia, the beaten finalists in Perth, will face Belgium and Belarus in Group B without world number one Ashleigh Barty.

Fatigue

The 25-year-old withdrew citing mental and physical exhaustion following the US Open in New York.

Australia skipper Alicia Malik will field Ajla Tomljanovic, Astra Sharma, Ellen Perez and Olivia Gadecki.

"Ajla has had an incredible year and this is a great opportunity for her to lead the team,” Molik said.

"Storm and Astra are both tremendous team players and it’s exciting to welcome Ellen and Olivia to the team for the first time.

Effort

“It was an incredible effort to reach the final of the Fed Cup in 2019 and I’m expecting the team to bring the same grit to do our country proud in Prague,” Molik added.

Group C will comprise the United States, Spain and Slovakia while hosts the Czech Republic will play in Group D with Germany and Switzerland.

In the group stages from 1 November, each nation will play two singles matches and a doubles and the winner of each pool will advance to the semi-final knockout stages.

The 2020 tournament was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic but rechristened in honour of the pioneering American player who fought for equality on the circuit and founded the Women's Tennis Association, which organises the women's game internationally.

The final will take place on 6 November.

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