TENNIS – Fed Cup. Let’s face it: the result at the Pat Rafter Arena in Brisbane was in discussion only till the first couple of games of the first rubber, when Germany’s Petkovic started hammering with her forehand Aussie’s Sam Stosur. Robbie Cappuccio
Before that, the Australian team was showing confidence. Australia has been expecting the chance for a final for over 20 years, and we must go back till 1974 to Evonne Goolagong Cawley’s days to see the green and gold team win. “I think we can win,” Aussie coach Alicia Molik said before the beginning of the tie. “It will be very clear in the Germans’ minds that Sam had the edge”, referring to last tie in Germany (2012) when Stosur defeated both Kerber (7-6, 6-4) and Petkovic (6-4, 6-1) to inspire their 3-2 upset over Germany.
The times they are a-changing. Stosur has been plummeting the WTA ranking (currently 19), and this year has only made it past the third round at one tournament and has struggled in the past with public expectation on Australian courts, especially the Australian Open. Petkovic (28) on the contrary, was coming off a title run on clay in Charleston a couple of weeks earlier; momentum was on her side and she did not let it slip. She broke each of Stosur’s four service games in the opening set to stroll through a 6-1 opener in less than 40 minutes, hitting the ball very deep especially with a deadly forehand and helped by a flood of unforced errors by Stosur.
Stosur woke up at the beginning of the second set, breaking for 2-1 with a forehand right on the line, then moving to 5-3 and serving for the set at 5-4. It was not meant to be. Stosur dropped the serve to then finish to a tiebreak, where the German failed four match points before finishing off the match. “At least I was able to fight back after a lopsided first set, but at the end of the day that doesn’t really count for much.” said Stosur at the end of the match.
So it was to Casey Dellacqua (53) to try to even out the tie. ”I’ve had a lot of tennis, and I’ve beaten some really good players along the way throughout the year, so I feel really good,” said Dellacqua before the match with Kerber (7).
Alas, the 46 ranking difference was all there and the rubber between the two left-handers lasted 50 minutes only with Kerber conceding one game and dismissing Dellacqua 6-1, 6-0 thus taking Germany to a 2-0 lead at the end of day 1. “They have very similar game styles.” Commented Alicia Molik. “I guess it’s just a real display of why Kerber is where she is in the rankings and why she has a single digit next to her name.”
Easter Sunday was no resurrection for the Aussie team. Stosur had to defeat Kerber to keep hopes alive, but the German prevailed 4-6, 6-0, 6-4 after a 2 hours and 6 minutes match in the opening reverse singles rubber, thus sealing the victory and admission to the final, after a 22 years wait.
Stosur looked determined and stormed to a 3-0 lead and, despite dropping serve in the seventh game, she broke back immediately to lead 5-3. The ninth game was tough going for both players, with Stosur committing a double fault on set point and Kerber converting her seventh break point opportunity to get to 5-4. A deep forehand winner in the following game sealed the set in Stosur’s favour; Sam’s forehand was finally working and the winners outnumbered the unforced errors.
However, Kerber’s response was just a brutal demolition of Australia’s hopes, with a bagel in 23 minutes.
The third set was characterized by the inability of holding serve by both players: Kerber broke Stosur again in a third game lasting more than 15 minutes to take a 2-1 lead. Stosur broke again Kerber when she served for the match up 5-2 and then held serve for a final glimpse of hope, but serving again for the tie on 5-4 the German did not fail expectations, sealing victory with an ace and booking a spot in the final. It will be Germany’s first appearance in the final since 1992’s victory of a team led by Steffi Graf and comprising Anke Huber and one Barbara Rittner.
As a small consolation, Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua won the dead doubles rubber against Julia Goerges and Anna-Lena Groenefeld 6-2, 6-7 (5-7), 10-2 as Germany ended the tie 3-1 victors.
“Right now I’m just enjoying the moment that we are in the final and of course whoever is in the final against us, if it’s the Czechs or Italy, they have experience with playing a final.” commented now Germany’s coach Barbara Rittner. “They’ve both won it recently so it’s going to be a big one for us, but we will enjoy every minute of it.” It will be the Czech Republic who trashed Italy 4-0.
From Melbourne – Robbie Cappuccio
Copper Box Arena To Host Historic Fed Cup Tie Against Kazakhstan
Great Britain will host Kazakhstan in the Copper Box Arena in April in their World Group II Play-Off tie.
The Copper Box Arena will host Great Britain’s historic Fed Cup World Group II tie against Kazakhstan in April.
The venue was announced on Thursday afternoon as Great Britain prepare for a historic World Group II tie against Kazakhstan in April.
The Copper Box Arena hosted some Olympic events in 2012 and has a capacity of 5,800 as Great Britain look to build on the momentum they picked up in Bath in February.
It is located in Hackney, London not too far from where Great Britain’s Fed Cup captain, Anne Keothavong, grew up and has stated the importance of April’s tie, “It’s very special to come back to my home borough of Hackney,” she said at a visit to Clapton Girls Academy.
“Having grown up and started playing tennis here, I never dreamt that one day I would be coming back and leading the British team in what is the world cup of women’s team tennis.
“Looking ahead to April, words can’t describe the sense of anticipation we are going to have playing our first World Group play-off at home.
“Home support makes such a massive difference in sport and we saw the impact the GB fans had in getting the team over the line in Bath recently.”
The tie is set to be Great Britain’s first home-and-away home tie for 28 years and Keothavong is looking for a big home support on Easter weekend, “For the fans, I’m hoping that seeing our players perform with all they have got will inspire the next generation of kids to get out there and get involved with tennis.”
The tie will take place on the weekend of the 20th and 21st of April with tickets expected to be priced at around £12. This match is expected to be close with not much separating the four singles players involved.
Fed Cup Draws: Great Britain Get Second Home Tie In Two Months, Czechs Look To Bounce Back
Great Britain will have another home tie as they face Kazakhstan in April’s World Group II Play-Offs
After waiting 26 years for a home tie, Great Britain will have a second tie in two months as they face Kazakhstan in April’s World Group II Play-Offs.
After hosting some Zone Group I Europe/Africa action in Bath and successfully qualifying for the World Group II Play-Offs, Great Britain have been handed another home tie.
The Brits will face Kazakhstan in April with the winners getting promoted to the second tier of women’s team tennis, a historic occasion for both nation.
This tie along with the other World Group II and World Group play-off ties will take place on Easter weekend between the 20th and 21st of April.
After finding out the news GB Fed Cup captain Anne Keothavong said she is ready for a raucous atmosphere in April, “We saw the fantastic atmosphere home fans create and the role they play in lifting our players beyond their limits.”
There is strong rumour that the tie could be played at the Copper Box Arena in London although that will be confirmed next week.
Meanwhile the pick of the other ties sees a strong Russia team host Italy while either the Netherlands or Japan face relegation to Zone Group I.
Czechs Look To Bounce Back.
In the World Group Play-Offs draw the Czech Republic were handed an easy home tie to Canada as they face unchartered territory in April.
The defending champions will play their first play-off tie since losing 3-2 to Romania in an exhilarating tie in Ostrava which was their first defeat on home soil for ten years.
While the other 2018 Fed Cup finalists USA will host Switzerland and Latvia host Germany in a historic tie for the hosts as they look to make the World Group for the first time in their history.
Here is the full World Group and World Group II Play-Offs draw with the ties taking place on the 20th/21st of April:
*Home teams are first
World Group Play-Offs
Czech Republic v Canada
USA v Switzerland
Latvia v Germany
Belgium v Spain
World Group II Play-Offs
Russia v Italy
Japan v Netherlands
Great Britain v Kazakhstan
Slovakia v Brazil
Simona Halep Vows To ‘Give Her All’ In Fed Cup Following Shock Win For Romania
The former world No.1 has her eyes set on winning the team competition this year.
Reigning French Open champion Simona Halep has pledged to fully commit herself to the Fed Cup after helping guide Romania to a shock win over the weekend.
Halep recorded wins over Katerina Siniakova and Karolina Pliskova during her country’s surprise 3-2 win over heavyweights the Czech Republic. A team who has won the title in six of the past eight years of the competition. The deciding win was clinched in the doubles when Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu and Monica Niculescu defeated Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 6-4 in a match that lasted just under three hours.
“It was my biggest and best win in the Fed Cup and to win both rubbers against the Czech Republic means a lot to me because they have such a big history in this competition,” Halep told reporters following her win over Pliskova.
Romania now finds themselves in the semifinals of the competition for the first time since 1973. Last year the team defeated Canada in Group II and then won their play-off tie against Switzerland to graduate to the top tier of the competition. They have a winning 6-3 record in the Fed Cup since 2015.
Reflecting on the latest triumph, Halep believes it will help inspire the next generation of players in her home country. During an interview with Telekom Sport on Sunday, the former world No.1 say she will ‘give her all’ to the team this year.
“It was a very tensed match, it was even harder in the stands. I was very nervous. Monica asked me before if I want to get in court, but I told her she is better.” The Romanian Journal quoted Halep as saying.
“We all made a huge effort for this game. We played against a big champion, Czech Republic. the girls are extraordinary, they left their heart on the court, so they managed to win.
“As I said before, this year I am giving all for the Fed Cup team. It is a huge step for us, for our country. The little ones who start playing tennis can trust us. This Fed Cup means something.”
Hoping to reach the final for the first time in history, Romania will take on France in the semi-finals in April. A country they last played back in 1976 at the Spectrum Stadium in Philadelphia, America. France defeated Belgium 3-1 in their quarter-final tie.
The semi-final tie will be held in France at a yet to be confirmed venue. In the other semi-final, Australia will take on Belarus.
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