The United States is out of the Fed Cup World Group for the first time after falling to Germany in a playoff matchup this weekend.
Andrea Petkovic notched a 6-2, 6-3 victory over American Melanie Oudin in the first reverse singles match on Sunday to give the Germans an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the best-of-five tie.
Germany went to post a 5-0 whitewash after Sabine Lisicki claimed a 6-3, 6-4 win over Christina McHale in the second reverse singles match and the doubles tandem of Julia Goerges and Anna-Lena Groenefeld rallied for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 triumph over the American duo of Vania King and Liezel Huber.
The World Group in Fed Cup play consists of only eight teams, unlike 16 in Davis Cup, and the U.S. won't be one of the eight in 2012. Germany will be among the eight that can compete for the Fed Cup crown next year, while the Americans will be relegated to second-tier status and will have to earn their way back to the top level next year in World Group II play.
Petkovic, the highest-ranked player in this weekend's tie at No. 19, also won her initial singles match on Saturday with a 6-3, 6-4 triumph against McHale, an 18-year-old New Jersey native who is ranked just 82nd in the world. Oudin, ranked only 81st, fell to Goerges, 6-2, 7-6 (7-5), in Saturday's other singles match.
The Americans were without their top two stars this weekend, as both Venus and Serena Williams are battling injuries. Another highly-ranked American, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, is hurt as well.
Germany improved to just 5-8 all-time against the U.S. in Fed Cup play and hadn't beaten the Americans since 1992.
The U.S. lost to Belgium in the first round earlier this year to fall into this weekend's playoff. The Americans had reached the Fed Cup final each of the last two years, falling to Italy both times, and have still won a record 17 Fed Cup titles.