Italy is hoping the Williams sisters decide to skip the Fed Cup final in November. Either way, though, the 2006 champions plan to host the United States in the best-of-five series on the slowest clay they can find.
“I hope the Williams sisters don’t come,” Italy captain Corrado Barazzutti told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “If they do come, we’ll try to beat them. It’s not impossible on clay. (Flavia) Pennetta has already beaten Venus more than once.”
The 14th-ranked Pennetta beat Venus Williams twice last year _ including a victory at the French Open _ although Venus won their last two meetings.
Italy beat Russia 4-1 and the United States edged the Czech Republic 3-2 in the semifinals last weekend. The Williams sisters _ Venus and Serena _ skipped the trip to Brno, and Fed Cup rookies Alexa Glatch and Bethanie Mattek-Sands lined up for United States captain Mary Joe Fernandez.
The Nov. 7-8 final immediately follows the season-ending WTA Championships in Doha, and Barazzutti expects the Williams sisters to play there. Italy would like to host the final in the south to play outdoors on slow clay to soften the impact of the Williams sister’s fierce groundstrokes.
“We’re definitely going to play on clay _ very slow clay _ and if possible, outdoors,” Barazzutti said. “First we need to determine if we can play outdoors, then we’ll choose the most uncomfortable setting possible. Uncomfortable in the sense that it suits us and not the Americans.”