Fed Cup 2020: Great Britain to face Slovakia away in qualifier for Finals

Britain's Fed Cup team celebrates victory
Great Britain ended a 26-year wait for Fed Cup promotion with victory over Kazakhstan in April

Great Britain will face Slovakia away from home in a qualifying tie for next year's new Fed Cup Finals.

Anne Keothavong's team will play the five-match tie, for a place in the 12-team Finals, on 7-8 February.

This year's finalists Australia and France, hosts Hungary and wildcards the Czech Republic have already qualified for April's Finals in Budapest.

The new format means Great Britain, for the first time since 1993, will begin a year with a chance to win the trophy.

Previously, only the eight teams in the competition's top tier could lift the trophy. Under the new system, 20 teams start the year with the chance to win.

Britain had been in the third tier of the Fed Cup for 26 years until they secured promotion to the World Group by beating Kazakhstan in London in April.

Their trip to Slovakia was one of eight qualifying ties drawn on Wednesday.

Qualifying ties for place in Fed Cup Finals (hosts named first)
United States v Latvia
Netherlands v Belarus
Romania v Russia
Brazil v Germany
Spain v Japan
Switzerland v Canada
Belgium v Kazakhstan
Slovakia v Great Britain

Konta likely to be highest-ranked player in tie

British number one Johanna Konta, who is ranked 16th in the world, is likely to be the highest-ranked player in next February's tie.

However, she is the only Briton in the world's top 100, whereas Slovakia have three - Viktoria Kuzmova (54), Dominika Cibulkova (68) and Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (96).

Slovakia were Fed Cup champions in 2002 and have competed at World Group level every year since 2006.

If Britain lose the tie they will compete in a play-off round in the same week as the Finals. Victory there would give them another chance to reach the finals in 2021, while defeat would send them back to the Europe/Africa Zone.

The Finals will be played on clay at Laszlo Papp Budapest Sports Arena from 14-19 April.

There is an $18m (£14.2m) prize fund. Of that, $12m (£9.5m) will go to the players, and the other $6m (£4.75m) to their national associations.

Each team will share $500,000 for reaching the Finals, with the winning team dividing $3.2m (£2.5m) between the players.

The Fed Cup, which was founded in 1963, is the largest annual international team competition in women's sport.

The Davis Cup - the men's equivalent team competition - has already undergone significant reform and in November 18 teams will compete for the title in the inaugural finals in Madrid.

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