The line between friendship and rivalry is blurred for Team USA and Team Russia as they prepare for this weekend’s Billie Jean King Cup tennis tournament at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
The United States topped Germany 5-2 in its semifinal match Thursday and will now play top-ranked Czech Republic for the title on Saturday.
Team Russia (ranked number three) vs. Team USA (ranked number four)
The U.S. squad won all three singles and two doubles matches Thursday to advance to the championship match. Russia won all three doubles matches to enter the championship match.
Michael Russell got the U.S. off to a good start in the first singles match. Russell defeated German Davis Cup player Jens Ludwig 7-6 (4), 6-2, before teammate Taylor Fritz followed with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Tobias Kamke. The Americans eventually clinched the doubles win by Kory Baldwin and Fabio Fognini in a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Kamke and Kerber.
“It feels good. I’m really excited for the final and just happy to get this match out of the way. Hopefully we can keep going out and keep winning,” said Fritz after Thursday’s match.
If the U.S. team beats the Czech Republic, Fritz will get to play against his younger brother, Peter, a top player in Europe. Both of the younger Fritz brothers are born and raised in New York City and have been playing on the professional circuit since they were 11 years old.
The Billie Jean King Cup is a charity tournament named after the former USTA President who helped bring the event to Florida in 2010. This weekend’s tournament serves as the lead-up to the ITF Junior World Championships in Turkey from Nov. 16-23.
The Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, will join three-time winner Roger Federer on Team USA. Venus and Serena are due to resume their comeback later this month at the WTA Finals in Singapore, which matches the top eight players in the world in the annual tournament.