TENNIS FED CUP – Alongside Stefanie Graf, Barbara Rittner and Anke Huber were members of the last German team to claim the Fed Cup 22 years ago. Rittner and Huber talked about their memories of 1992 and the chances for 2014 when interviewed recently.
Alongside Stefanie Graf, Barbara Rittner and Anke Huber were members of the last German team to claim the Fed Cup 22 years ago. Anke Huber is now the Operating Tournament Director of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart and Barbara Rittner is the captain of Porsche Team Germany which will be attempting to win back the Fed Cup title for Germany in the final against the Czech Republic in Prague Mid-November 2014. They jointly talked about their memories of 1992 and the chances for 2014 when interviewed recently.
What memories do you have of winning the Fed Cup in 1992 when you, together with Steffi Graf, beat Spain in Frankfurt?
Barbara Rittner: “Winning the title at home in a team with Steffi and Anke was something special but I do feel we could have celebrated a bit more intensively. What do you think Anke?”
Anke Huber: “Partywise, we weren’t quite in the same class as your girls. But I was only 17 at the time. For me it was a big experience to play for Germany and to win the title.”
Back then, people thought you only had an outside chance of winning. How do you see the chances for Prague?
Barbara Rittner: “I see us as being the outsiders again. The Czech team is incredibly strong and play consistently at the highest level. They recently won the Fed Cup in 2011 and 2012. It says a lot about the strength of their team.”
Anke Huber: “I also feel the hosts will go into the finals as favourites. But I think our girls definitely have the games to match the Czechs and in the end it will depend on who plays better on the day. The question is also how will the Czechs deal with the pressure of playing in front of their home crowd? Playing at home is not always automatically an advantage.”
Were you so closely knit in 1992 as the current Porsche Team Germany?
Anke Huber: “In our day, it wasn’t possible to develop such a team spirit. Back then the Fed Cup was played over a week at a single venue. It meant the team was only together for two weeks in a year – one week preparing and one week competing.”
Barbara Rittner: “Today’s players have known each since their juniors days and have spent far more time together at training camps and tournaments than we ever did. Anke and I grew up together. Steffi on the other hand was a little older than us, so we didn’t do things together as juniors.”
Anke Huber: “On top of that Steffi mainly practiced alone and was also more of a loner.”
Barbara Rittner: “…who was also a fantastic team member.”
Anke Huber: “Definitely. When we were on court, we always did things as a team and cheered and supported each other.”
Was the importance of women’s tennis and the Fed Cup back then as big as it is these days?
Barbara Rittner: “They were different times. As a result of the many successes of Steffi and Anke and naturally Boris Becker and Michael Stich, tennis was on everybody’s lips. Tennis was televised almost every day on TV. It meant that the importance of the Fed Cup was also automatically high even though we didn’t get quite the attention as they do today.”
Anke Huber: “The Fed Cup has become far more important since then and is in the limelight far more. I have the impression that the players’ attitudes have changed over the years. It’s obvious for all to see that they love representing their country as a team and being successful together. Porsche Team Germany is the best example of that.”
How important was the Fed Cup win in 1992 for you as players? Barbara, how are you feeling 22 years later with the chance of capturing the title as the team captain?
Anke Huber: “As I said previously, I was 17 at the time and probably wasn’t really able to fully realize the importance of the success. Looking back, I have to say that the Fed Cup title was something quite special and an important milestone in my career.”
Barbara Rittner: “The title was very important for my career at the time and not just when looking back. After all I was a member of the world’s best tennis team – it was something quite special. That I now have the chance to win the title as the team captain makes me proud and shows me that my work is bearing fruit.”
There are only a few days to go to the final. To what extent is the tension increasing?
Barbara Rittner: “I’m slowly getting nervous. When falling asleep at night, I daren’t think about the final too much otherwise I’d get too uptight which wouldn’t be good. But the great anticipation ahead of the final outweighs everything.”
Which strengths of the Porsche Team Germany players are you putting your faith in most of all against the strong Czechs?”
Barbara Rittner: “I’m putting my faith above all in the performances that my players have already served up in the Fed Cup. And naturally our team spirit. It can move mountains.”
Anke Huber: “I believe we can win. One shouldn’t however forget that getting to the final alone is a great success for Porsche Team Germany in itself. And the girls can crown it all by winning the title. The interest in German women’s tennis hasn’t been as big as it is now for a long time. A win in Prague would further increase people’s awareness and would also be a big incentive and enormous motivation for younger players like those in the Porsche Talent Team Germany.”
What does Porsche Team Germany have to do to win the title?
Anke Huber: “On the day everything has to be perfect. No matter what happened before – the players have to switch on and be prepared for everything. Only then can they be successful against such strong opponents.”
Barbara Rittner: “The players have to feel they’re well-prepared, also in respect of the electric atmosphere in the hall, so that they to call upon their best tennis. We have to do everything to enjoy the weekend despite the stress and tension. Then everything is possible.”
After 26 Years Of Heartbreak, Great Britain Finally Secures Fed Cup Promotion
After losing four play-off ties since 2011, the British team have finally scored the breakthrough they desired.
A duo of hard fought singles victories in London has made history for British Tennis after the Fed Cup team defeated Kazakhstan to reach the World Group stage for the first time since 1993.
Tied at 1-1 after the first day, Johanna Konta and Katie Boulter prevailed in both of their matches to hand Great Britain an overall 3-1 win over their opponents. The proceedings were opened up on Sunday by former top 10 player Konta. Taking on Yania Putintseva, Konta battled to an epic 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory. After dropping the opening set, she was then forced to recover from a 1-4 deficit in the decider to score the crucial victory. Putintseva, who was struggling physically during the match, is only the fourth top 50 player Konta has defeated so far in 2019.
“As a young girl, as an athlete wanting to make it to the top of my sport… you can only dream of this stuff.” She said during an interview with BT Sport. “Gosh that was one hell of a match wasn’t it?”
Following on from Konta’s heroics, it was Boulter’s chance to seal an unassailable lead for her country in the tie. Boulter wasn’t born until three years after her country was last in the World Group of the Fed Cup. The 22-year-old was out to seek redemption after squandering three match points on Saturday during her loss to Putintseva.
This time round Boulter didn’t crumble when under pressure. Like teammate Konta, she roared back from a set down to defeat Zarina Diyas 6-7(1), 6-4, 6-1. Winning 67% of her first service points and breaking her opponent’s serve six times throughout the match.
“I was trying to get one win for the team, Johanna did a great job, I was just trying to make them proud today,” she told BT Sport.
“I showed yesterday how much it meant, I was so close but today I bounced back and got the win.
“We go again!!”
The triumph comes after what has been years of heartbreak for the British camp. Prior to 2019, they have been on the verge of reaching World Group II of the Fed Cup four times in seven years. Only to lose all of their play-off ties. Making their victory over Kazakhstan even more sweeter.
“Amazing. Just a heroic effort from the players this week, some fantastic tennis.” Team captain Anne Keothavong commented.
“Everyone here has been part of our journey and this has been an unforgettable weekend.
“Jo’s effort. coming back from behind, to Katie today. I think they have inspired a lot of people.”
Besides their new status, the contingent of player’s are hoping that their performances will help inspire the next generation. At present, there are five British players in the top 200 on the WTA Tour. Three of which are under the age of 22 (Boulter, Harriet Dart and Katie Swan).
“I hope that we have inspired a lot of kids here (in London) today to play tennis or do whatever they want to do.” Said team member Heather Watson.
It remains to be seen what is next for the Brits with the possibility of the Fed Cup changing its format. From next year there is a chance that the world group could be turned into a 12-team format. If this happened, Britain is likely to make that group thanks to their latest win.
Australia Down Belarus In Thriller To End 26-Year Wait For Fed Cup Final
It is joy for the Aussies and heartbreak for Belarus in Brisbane.
The Australian duo of Ashleigh Barty and Sam Stosur has guided their country into the final of the Fed Cup for the first time since 1993 after a dramatic final day of their clash with Belarus.
Australia, who last won the team competition back in 1974, was pushed to their limits at the Pat Rafter Arena with the final match of the tie deciding their fate. After day one, they were held at 1-1 by Belarus. A team compromising of two-time grand slam champion Victoria Azarenka and world No.10 Aryna Sabalenka.
Barty gave the home favourites an initial 2-1 advantage after she disposed of Sabalenka 6-2, 6-2. A player who she lost to twice during the second half of the 2018 season. However, Azarenka revived Belarus’ chances immediately with an emphatic 6-1, 6-1, win over tour veteran Stosur. Making it her first victory in the competition since 2016.
With all to play for, it was the doubles match that separated the two. During a roller coaster encounter, Barty and Stosur prevailed 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, over their rivals. Breaking twice in the decider on route to securing the overall 3-2 victory.
“It’s just super-exciting now to be in the Fed Cup final,” Stosur told fedcup.com afterwards. “All the girls, we work so hard throughout the year, and we really stick together as a team, Fed Cup weeks or not Fed Cup weeks. We’ve always got each others back, so to be in the Fed Cup final not I think a great reward for both of us, and we’re going to give it our best shot here in November.”
Team captain Alicia Molik has hailed the performance of her team. This year was the first time Australia has contested a semi-final of the competition since 2014. The country ranks third on the all-time list for more trophies won, but have failed to gain success in recent decades.
“It was just an incredible weekend,” Australian captain Molik reflected.
“We hadn’t exactly planned for it to come to the doubles, yet we were prepared. We got to that position, and I was really pleased today with both the outputs of Ash – it was phenomenal tennis out there – and Sam gave it her best.
“You can just see the joy in our faces too – winning that doubles rubber, what it means. We’re now in the final. I’m just so proud.”
In November’s final Australia will play either France or Romania.
Yulia Putintseva Saves Three Match Points To Keep Kazakhstan Alive Against Great Britain
Yulia Putintseva once again brought the drama as she saved Kazakhstan from being 2-0 down against Great Britain.
Yulia Putintseva saved three match points to defeat Katie Boulter 3-6 6-2 7-6(6) and level the tie for Kazakhstan against Great Britain.
In a match where there were injuries, passion and lots of drama, Putintseva saved three match points to level the tie for Kazakhstan.
Despite having a 4-0 lead in the deciding set, Boulter couldn’t close out the match as Great Britain are pegged back heading into the second day.
Earlier in the day Johanna Konta edged out Zarina Diyas 4-6 6-3 6-2 to give the hosts the lead in their World Group II Play-Off tie.
It was a good start from the Brit as she timed the ball to perfection as the Kazakh had no answers in the opening set. Two breaks at the end of the set sealed a positive start for Boulter, who was feeding off the crowd’s enthusiasm.
However the second set was a very different story as the Brit struggled with a knee injury as Putintseva took a more aggressive approach to proceedings.
Three games in a row against a cautious Boulter saw the world number 38 force a deciding set, which was sealed by an ace.
The final set saw Boulter time the ball exceptionally well again and overpower forehands with some aggressive forehands.
A 4-0 lead seemingly saw the Brit cruising but back came the controversial Kazakh as she managed to rescue one of the breaks of serve.
In nervy circumstances the world number 86 couldn’t hold her nerve when serving for the match at 5-3 as Putintseva pushed to force a final set tiebreak.
After one match point disappearing in the eleventh game, Boulter remained aggressive to create two more chances to seal the match.
But never count out Putintseva and four points in a row thanks to some gutsy play saw the Kazakh take the match in over two and a half hours as Britain sense an opportunity missed.
It is a gutting loss for Britain, who should have a commanding 2-0 lead but instead have been pegged back at 1-1. The match is level after Johanna Konta edged out Zarina Diyas in the first rubber.
After controversy with the Kazakh’s fans trombone and trumpets, the Brit kept her cool to seal a crucial rubber for the hosts.
Tomorrow Johanna Konta will face Yulia Putintseva, with Katie Boulter, if 100%, playing Zarina Diyas. If the singles are once again split, then a deciding doubles rubber will decide the outcome of the tie.
Great Britain are looking to enter the top two tiers of Women’s Tennis for the first time in 28 years.
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