Belgium bids to regain Fed Cup
15 September 2006, BRUSSELS — Justine Henin-Hardenne heads a Belgian team aiming for its second Fed Cup title, when the final against Italy begins Saturday.
15 September 2006
BRUSSELS — Justine Henin-Hardenne heads a Belgian team aiming for its second Fed Cup title, when the final against Italy begins Saturday.
World number two Henin-Hardenne, who lost to Maria Sharapova in the US Open final last weekend, can at least guarantee that most fans will be on her side: the matches take place in her home town, Charleroi.
With Kim Clijsters injured, Kirsten Flipkens, Caroline Maes and Leslie Butkiewicz complete the line-up.
For Italy, world number 15 Francesca Schiavone is the top ranked player, while the other team-members are Flavia Pennetta, Mara Santangelo and Roberta Vinci.
Flipkens will play Schiavone in Saturday's opener, followed by Henin-Hardenne against Pennetta.
Sunday will open with the main match of the weekend between Henin-Hardenne and Schiavone with Flipkens and Pannetta taking the court later in the afternoon, before the others face off in a doubles match.
Henin-Hardenne, who missed Belgium’s semi-final win over the US citing fatigue, is glad to be in front of her home fans at the 6,000-capacity Spiroudome.
"I don't have a lot of time to get used to the surface and the conditions, but we play at home and it is going to be an advantage to us," she said.
The absent Clijsters, who hopes to return to action at the Gaz de France event in Hasselt on 30 October, is confident her compatriots can win the title.
"I believe Henin-Hardenne will have too much power," Clijsters said on her website.
"I think returning after successful weeks in the United States to play in front of her home crowd will spur her on and will be the advantage."
Italy have won all six of their previous meetings with Belgium. However, it will be Italy's first Fed Cup final while Belgium's only other appearance was in 2001 when they beat Russia.
The Belgians will not lack for support in front of a sell-out 6,000 crowd, although the Italians will be hoping that a high proportion of Charleroi's sizeable Italian community will turn out too.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news