Fed Cup: Venus Williams draws Petrova

Fresh off her fourth Wimbledon title, Venus Williams will meet Nadia Petrova in the Fed Cup semifinal against Russia on Saturday.

updated: July 15, 2007 14:41 IST
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Stowe, Vermont:

Fresh off her fourth Wimbledon title, Venus Williams will meet Nadia Petrova after United States teammate Vania King plays Anna Chakvetadze in the singles opener of the Fed Cup semifinal against Russia on Saturday.

On Sunday, Williams plays Chakvetadze and King will face Petrova in singles before King and Lisa Raymond play Petrova and Elena Vesnina in doubles on hard courts at the sold-out 4,000-seat Topnotch Resort, a long lob shot from Stowe's ski trails.

"I've had some great matches against Nadia," Williams said after Friday's draw. "I think we both play pretty similar. We both try to hit the ball a ton, serve big, dictate."

Williams, who became the lowest-ranked woman (31st) to win Wimbledon when she beat Marion Bartoli of France last weekend, proclaimed herself rested and ready, saying she relished the opportunity to represent her country.

"I thought actually it would be great for me to come here because I knew, even before I got here, it would be really relaxing, that this is not a big city, but this is a place where I could relax and really get ... balanced almost," Williams said.

"I've gotten a chance to go out on the court, I've gotten a chance to be with the team, I've gotten a chance to be at the spa a little bit and go to the pool and just rest a lot. So it's been perfect," she said.

Sister Serena withdrew from the Fed Cup after injuring her left thumb and calf at Wimbledon. Absent from the Russian team will be injured No 2-ranked Maria Sharapova and No 4 Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Russia nearly had to play without team captain Shamil Tarpishchev, whose visa was delayed in a snafu that had Russian officials fuming this week.

"We are especially pleased that captain Shamil Tarpishchev is here with his team," US Tennis Association board member Katrina Adams said on Friday as she presided over the draw. "We know it was a long journey."

For his part, Tarpishchev struck an apologetic tone over the incident.

"I'm not coming here for pleasure," he said through an interpreter. "It's a job I'm coming here for. From this point of view, my composure was a little imbalanced."

So's the weather.

Thunderstorms plagued central Vermont all week, triggering widespread flash flooding. The forecast was clear for Saturday, but there was a 70 per cent chance of rain on Sunday, with showers and thunderstorms in the forecast.

"The team is very excited," said US team captain Zina Garrison. "We've had a great time here, the little time we've spent here without the rain."