Melbourne, 11 February 2011 | AAP
Australia will have to cobble together an untried doubles team when it bids to beat Ukraine and remain in the Fed Cup World Group in April.
Australian coach David Taylor admitted that the retirement of veteran doubles specialist Rennae Stubbs could prove a headache.
While he has a pool of players in contention for the vacant spot, none of them are regular doubles partners.
With fifth-ranked Sam Stosur and world No.31 Jarmila Groth spearheading the team along with Anastasia Rodionova, Taylor will be watching the form of Sally Peers, Olivia Rogowska, Jelena Dokic, Alicia Molik, Sophie Ferguson and Casey Dellacqua.
Dellacqua, who has only just returned to competition after undergoing foot and shoulder surgery, won the French Open doubles in 2008 while Molik won the French in 2007 and the Australian title in 2005.
“We don’t really have a combination though and that’s a little bit of a concern,” Taylor said on Thursday.
“It could mean everything but we’re going to have to go in with an untried team.
“Sam’s not playing a lot of doubles the next few months but the week of the Fed Cup you do get a lot of practice and you do play a lot of doubles.
“The fact is they know each other and that’s the main thing – we can work through it.”
Australia will be heavily favoured to see off Ukraine, having beaten them 5-0 away in Kharkiv last year.
The eastern European nation’s best players are sisters Alona and Kateryna Bondarenko, whose current world rankings are 53 and 107.
Taylor said that while Stosur missed several chances against Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone during the recent quarterfinal loss to Italy in Hobart, there was no issue with her game.
“She’s losing a few close ones at the moment but that doesn’t take much to turn around because obviously if you’re losing close matches you’re in them,” Taylor said.
“I don’t think there’s any radical changes she needs to make.
“It’s just a matter of her winning those close matches as she did last year quite often.”
A venue has yet to be decided upon for the April 16–17 tie.
Taylor favours somewhere warm and on clay, although several centres in Queensland have been ruled out due to flood damage.
However, Cairns remains a possibility while Darwin and Melbourne are in the mix.