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From BBC Sport Online:

Fed Cup champions Belgium will begin their title defence at home to Australia following the draw for the 2002 event.

The Belgian duo of Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin secured the trophy with victory over Russia earlier this month.

The US, who withdrew from the 2001 final after the terrorist attacks on America, will host Austria in the first round.

Under the new format, the eight winners of the first-round matches will move forward to the quarter-finals in July, leaving the losers to face play-off matches to remain in the World Group.

Four semi-finalists will advance to the final week of competition next November, with the final being played in the same week.

International Tennis Federation president Francesco Ricci Bitti said: "Fed Cup is the world's largest international team competition for women.

"As such, it has a status in women's sport that is unequalled.

"Fed Cup will be 40 years old in 2003 and we want to celebrate that important anniversary with a strong, meaningful competition that showcases the very best of women's tennis."

<br />First round draw for the 2002 Fed Cup World Group

U.S. v Austria<br />Czech Republic v Croatia<br />Spain v Hungary<br />Russia v Germany<br />Switzerland v Slovakia<br />Argentina v France<br />Sweden v Italy<br />Australia v Belgium

<br />Ties to be played on 27-28 April

But the title holders will start next season's event as second seeds behind the United States as the women's team competition returns to a 16-nation World Group format.
 

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Was there any kind of reprimand for the US team pulling out at all?

Whatever, I like the newer format and think there are some interesting ties in prospect 1st round. <img src="smile.gif" border="0">
 

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the draw is in order and winners of 1st rd will play in 2nd rd in July.
 

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Yes!!! Croatia finaly has an easier first round match than norma! Is Croatia playing at home or away?
 

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What the F**K!

This is cr_ap and totally unfair!!!!!

I can't believe this. Shouldn't the 8 finalists from 2001 have some advantage like at least a seeding?

Seems unfair that Sweden plays Italy, Slovakia plays Switzerland and can go straight through to the Quarter finals when none of this teams even got passed the 2nd round, yet teams like Australia and Argentina who fought so well winning a few ties to get into the finals have to play like the top seeds first up!

In my opinion the 8 finalists from 2001 should all get seedings and play the 8 countries that requalified for the main world group.

This is wrong the winner of Sweden/Italy and Slovakia/Switzerland don't deserve to get into the Q/F and should consider themselves extremely lucky that this stupid, bizarre new format enables this!

I'm not against a change to the format, I just don't agree with penalising defending finalists! <img src="graemlins/firey.gif" border="0" alt="[Fiery]" /> <img src="graemlins/firey.gif" border="0" alt="[Fiery]" /> <img src="graemlins/firey.gif" border="0" alt="[Fiery]" /> <img src="graemlins/firey.gif" border="0" alt="[Fiery]" /> <img src="graemlins/firey.gif" border="0" alt="[Fiery]" /> <img src="graemlins/firey.gif" border="0" alt="[Fiery]" /> <img src="graemlins/firey.gif" border="0" alt="[Fiery]" /> <img src="graemlins/firey.gif" border="0" alt="[Fiery]" /> <img src="graemlins/firey.gif" border="0" alt="[Fiery]" />
 

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GOOD LUCK TO

USA CROATIA and SLOVAKIA!
 

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Not a bad draw for Slovakia, hope they will go far next year. I think they can beat Switzerland if Hingis isn't there, and Argentina or France isn't bad for a quarterfinal really.

Good luck to Spain aswell, and also Sweden, great effort to get into the world group.

Have to feel a bit sorry for Australia, they fought hard to get here and now they have to play Belgium right off the bat, tough break for them to not get some sort of protection being in the top 8.
 

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Ausboy, I understand you are upset and in some ways I agree with you, but let me tell you that if you pick the best 2 players of each country, teams like Italy, Slovakia and Switzerland (if Hingis plays) are much better positioned in the rankings than the australians. The only country that seems weaker is Sweden. So there is some sense in this draw, and I must say I am very happy for my italians !! <img src="graemlins/wavey.gif" border="0" alt="[Wavey]" />
 

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2d round

U.S. vs Czech Republic <br />Spain vs Russia <br />Switzerland v France<br />Italy v Belgium

3d round

U.S. vs Russia <br />Switzerland v Belgium

final

US def Belgium

Switzerland will surprise many people. But overall it's a US tournament to win or lose
 

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I totally agree with you, AUSBOY. We fought so hard to beat Japan, and then Germany, both away from home, and now we have to face France while either Sweden, with only one top 200 player, and Italy, whose top players aren't playing, will advance to the second round!!! It's totally unfair!
 

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The positive aspect about this is that at least we get to play at home, and if Paola plays I think we have some chances, but still, it should be easier if we are speaking of a first round.
 

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[email protected]_ace

It's always the same with you americans isn't? (ok, I should generalize so much, because I know we have a lot of good, nice and realistic americans on the board).<br />Why do you always think that the US is the only one who can win this? It's all up to the US.<br />Don't forget Belgium!!!! If the final is on clay, I think the chances are 50/50!!!!!!!!
 

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[email protected],

because that's the truth and everybody knows it.

And for the record, I'm Russian and would love Russian girls to win. But I'm realistic... I know that even if the US team doesn't bring its absolutely best team, it's still a favourite.

[ November 28, 2001: Message edited by: tenn_ace ]</p>
 

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now you speak different: you say it is A favourite.

In your other post you sounded like only the US can win...
 
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