The Fed Cup, the woman’s version of the Davis Cup, gets underway this weekend. These cups are team-based tennis competitions by country. It’s played out in a tournament-style bracket.

But how the Fed Cup works is thoroughly confusing, so bear with us. The tournament is different from Davis because it is split into two world sections: only the first one can compete for the Fed Cup title, while the second competes for the right to qualify for the following year’s tournament. Both of these world groups matches are set to begin on Feb. 7.

Afterwards, the four losing countries from Group I’s first round competes against the four winners from Group II in the WG I Playoff: the winner of this qualifies for the following year, why the losers get officially dropped down.

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On top of this, the losers of World Group II face off against four countries who qualified from the lower divisions’  top tier. And this top tier is also separated into three zones: Euro/Africa, Americas and Asia/Oceania. The featured photo of Heather Watson serving is actually from Group One Euro/Africa Zone, where Great Britain is currently taking on Turkey.

And if this was not confusing enough, there are three levels of the lower group: so to make this easier on the reader, World Group I and World Group II are the higher divisions. Then there are three lower divisions made up of three Group One Zones, three Group Two Zones and finally a Group Three. So it is a never-ending cycle of moving up and down from year to year: with the dominant teams remaining in World Group I.


As for the teams eligible for the title this year, round one has the Czech Republic playing Canada, Italy facing France, Poland playing Russia and finally Australia facing off against Germany (bold indicates home field advantage). Each round is determined by five matches: four singles and one double. On top of this, the Fed Cup is year round with World Group I’s semifinals on April 18-19 and the final on November 14-15.

Finally, the team with the most Fed Cup championships is the United States with 17, but they have not won a title since 2000. The closest nation to the U.S. is the Czech Republic with eight, including three out of the last few competitions. And unsurprisingly, Czech is favorited to win this year with Italy coming in a close second.

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