The first edition of the Fed Cup Qualifiers will take place between February 7-8, with 16 nations battling for eight spots at the Fed Cup Finals together with France, Australia, the Czech Republic and the host Hungary. In Biel, Switzerland will host Canada on an indoor hard court, with Belinda Bencic, Jil Teichmann, Viktorija Golubic, Stefanie Voegele and Timea Bacsinszky taking upon Bianca Andreescu, Leylah Fernandez, Eugenie Bouchard and Gabriela Dabrowski in what should be one of the best ties of the weekend.
Switzerland's top-ranked player Belinda Bencic is ready to lead the home squad and it is still uncertain will the US Open champion Bianca Andreescu join the action, having been training in Biel and still waiting with the decision about playing or skipping the tie.
The Canadian Fed Cup captain Heidi El Tabakh will lead her team for the third time, hoping to grab the second victory and drive Canada towards the Fed Cup Finals, pumped and motivated after everything they have achieved in the past 12 months or so.
Heidi said that Andreescu has been improving every day but they still need a couple of days to decide on her participation in the singles rubbers, with Bianca being sidelined ever since the WTA Finals due to a knee injury.
"It would mean a lot if we can reach the Fed Cup Finals, that's our goal," captain Heidi El Tabakh said. "I think Canadian tennis, in general, has had a great year and if we can continue to improve and have great results, then that would be a great goal.
The Swiss team is great; I think it's their best squad and we're up against a very tough challenge, especially playing in an away tie. Also, I think our girls are ready and we're doing our homework; it's going to be a tough challenge that we're up for.
Bianca is improving every day; she still has a couple of days left. As of right now, we haven't made any decisions yet about the team, but we will when the time comes. It's been great; I've enjoyed the Fed Cup captain role; every tie is a learning experience for me.
I'm fortunate to be surrounded by a great team. I have Nathalie Tauziat by my side, she's been a great mentor and I've learned a lot from Sylvain Bruneau, the former Fed Cup captain. This is something that I enjoy, I know the players well and too bad for me it's only twice a year; still, I look forward to these ties and the week leading up to them as well."