TENNIS – Andrea Petkovic and Angelique Kerber helped Germany recover from 0-2 down to draw level to 2-2 against Russia in Sochi thanks to their wins in their reverse rubber singles matches. Diego Sampaolo
Petkovic , who replaced Sabine Lisicki, eased past Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2 6-1 thanks to 20 winners in 1 hours and 21 minutes despite tiredness.
“I don’t what would have happened if it would have gone three sets. it was very difficult, and even though it was a short match, I didn’t feel great during the match physically”, said Petkovic
Angelique Kerber, who replaced Julia Georges for the second singles reverse rubber, took just 52 minutes to sweep aside Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova 6-1 6-0 thanks to a perfect match in which she hit 21 winners.
Russia secured their decisive 3-2 point by winning the decisive doubles match. Elena Vesnina and Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova beat Andrea Petkovic and Sabine Lisicki in straight sets
“It was an unbelievable victory and we are so excited and I am so proud of my team. The whole team worked so hard and I just want to thank my captain as she was amazing and helped us so much”, said doubles specialist Vesnina, who is ranked seventh in the WTA doubles ranking.
Vesnina and Pavlyuchenkova got a break in the fifth game en route to winning the first set with 6-2. Lisicki dropped her serve in the second set. The Russian team sealed the win with another break in the ninth game
Russia will take on Czech Republic in the final which will be played on Czech soil. The Czech team will be bidding to win their four Fed Cup Trophy in five years. Moscow hosted the previous final between these two countries in 2011 when Czech Republic triumphed. Russia will play in their 8th final in the last 15 years.The Russian team are bidding to win their first Fed Cup title since 2008
Petra Kvitova won the first Sunday’s reverse rubber securing Czech Republic the decisive point for 3-0 against France in Ostrava. Kvitova beat Caroline Garcia 6-4 6-4 in one hour and 32 minutes.
Kvitova broke serve in the third game of the opening game after Garcia hit her backhand into the net. Garcia broke back to draw level to 3-3 after a long game. Kvitova got another break with a backhand pass before serving out for the set.
Kvitova got a double break topull away to 4-1. Kvitova failed to serve out for the match at 5-2 in the second set when she hit her forehand wide allowing Garcia to recover one of the two breaks. Kvitova converted on her first match point in her next service game with her passing forehand winner to the delight of the crowd in CEZ Arena in Ostrava.
Fed Cup Play-Offs:Williams fights back from a set down to edge Errani:
Serena Williams came back from a set down to battle past Sara Errani with 4-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 in three sets on a windy day to give the US team a 2-1 lead over Italy in the Fed Cup Play Off in Brindisi.
Local favourite Flavia Pennetta drew level to 2-2 with her 6-1 6-1 win over Christina Mchale in just 56 minutes to the delight of home fans and her family. Thanks to her win Pennetta forced the match to the decisive doubles rubber
Williams never lost in her previous seven head-to-head matches against Errani who won just four games in their previous two matches but this time she had to fight hard when she went down a set and a break in the second set . Errani served for the match at 6-4 5-4 but Williams bounced back forcing the match to the tie-break where she raced to a 6-1 lead forcing the match to the third set.
Both players traded breaks in the first four games of the decider en route to 3-3. Williams then took control of the match winning the next three games. She closed out to love on her first match point in the final game to clinch the win with 6-3. With this win Williams extended her winning streak in Fed Cup matche s
“I really struggled in the wind on both sides. I don’t know what side was worse for me. I am able to adjust and it’s a little disappointing that I wasn’t able to adjust sooner. Today has been a big eye-opener. I need to go home and really train. I am not totally as ready for clay-court season as I thought I was”, said Williams
Italy secured the spot in the World Group with a win in the final doubles match. Flavia Pennetta and Sara Errani eased past Serena Williams and Allison Riske. Italy beat the US team for the fifth time in a row.
Pennetta and Errani raced out to 5-0 lead in the first set in just 17 minutes. In the second set Italy faced a tougher opposition but they rallied from a break down before breaking in the seventh game for 4-3 en route to winning the mathc with 6-3.
Pennetta was the heroine of the day with her 14th consecutive match win in the Fed Cup.
“It’s something really special in my career. I tried everything that I could and everything was working pretty good”, said Pennetta.
“We beat the United States with Serena Williams and Serena played all three matches. We are happy for this victory. We really don’t deserve to go in the second division”, said Italian captain Corado Barazzurri
Timea Baczinsky and Victoria Golubic won the 2-6 6-4 9-7 win in the decisive doubles runner securing a spot in next year’s World Group for Switzerland who prevailed with 3-2 over Poland in Zielona Gora.
Martina Hingis was leading 6-4 5-2 in the second set against Urszula Radwanska but she felt fatigue and suffered from cramps allowing the Pole to recover and win the second set with 7-5. Hingis went down 1-4 in the decider and had to take a seven-minute break because of severe cramps. Radwanska clinched the win with 4-6 7-5 6-1. Hingis, who was playing her first Fed Cup match since 1998, was expected to play the doubles but she was forced to withdraw because of the injury and was replaced by Golubic.
Baczinsky won both singles matches and the doubles securing three points. On Sunday the Swiss player eased past World Number 9 Agniewska Radwanska 6-1 6-1.
The Netherlands made their return for the first time since 1998 to the World Group with a 3-1 win over Australia. Aranxta Rus fought back from a bagel loss in the first set to beat Jarmila Gajdosova with 0-6 7-5 7-5. Earlier in the day Kiki Bertens secured the 2-1 point with a 6-2 6-3 win over Casey Dellacqua.
Captain Benneteau ‘Proud’ After France Seal First Fed Cup For 16 Years
Kristina Mladenovic won both the matches she was involved with to seal the Fed Cup title for France.
France’s Fed Cup captain Julien Benneteau expressed his pride after France edged out Australia 3-2 in the Fed Cup final.
The visitors claimed their first Fed Cup title for 16 years in Perth after Kristina Mladenovic won both of the matches she was involved with.
It all started after Mladenovic produced one of the greatest wins of her career by edging out world number one Ash Barty 2-6 6-4 7-6(1) in the first match of the day.
Both players had convincing wins on day one and it was the Australian who started the strongest, claiming the first set 6-2.
However Mladenovic struck back in the second set with a crucial break at 5-4 as she closed out the set to force a decider.
There was a lot of momentum shifts in the deciding set but eventually the world number 40 dominated the tiebreak to seal a shock win and a 2-1 lead for France.
Australia hit back in the second rubber of the day as Ajla Tomljanovic produced a solid performance to defeat Pauline Parmentier 6-4 7-5.
After a convincing loss in day one, Tomljanovic produced stunning shot-making to redeem herself and score her first Fed Cup win as an Australian.
The deciding rubber was a highly-anticipated doubles match between Ash Barty and Sam Stosur taking on Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic.
All four players had a combined total of 13 doubles grand slam titles as Australia had a good start to the match but lacked clinical edge after that.
The French team took advantage as they won the last two games of the opening set and the first two games of the second set.
This allowed them to control the tempo and when Stosur hit a volley long, the celebrations could start as they sealed a 6-4 6-3 win.
After the match, Captain Julien Benneteau expressed his pride at his French side, “I’m the proudest man on the planet right now,” Benneteau claimed.
“I’m so proud of my girls and the team, they deserve it because they fought for a long time for this title. It’s a dream for me. I tried to imagine that at the beginning of the year when I knew that I could have the best team with me on the court. Eight months later, here we are.”
The win means it’s France’s third Fed Cup triumph overall and their first since 2003, with Kristina Mladenovic winning all three of the matches she was involved with.
As for Australia, it was emotional scenes as Barty didn’t seem to have enough in the tank to edge the Aussies over the finish line.
This final also means its the last traditional final as the format will now to change a one-week 12 team contest which will take place next April in Budapest.
Ash Barty And Kristina Mladenovic Power To Victory On Day One At Fed Cup Final
Ash Barty and Kristina Mladenovic produced one-sided victories to keep the score level after day one of the Fed Cup Final.
Ash Barty and Kristina Mladenovic produced dominant displays to keep Australia and France level at the end of day one of the Fed Cup Final.
In front of a sold-out RAC Arena in Perth, Australia were bidding for their first Fed Cup title since 1974 as they took on a reunited French team.
However their bid got off to the worst possible start as a nervy Ajla Tomljanovic was stunned by Kristina Mladenovic in 72 minutes.
Hitting 16 winners, the world number 40 pummelled her way past Tomljanovic to hand the visitors the early advantage.
Though the Australian debutant showed moments of brilliance, they were in patches as Mladenovic produced a stunning performance for the French team.
After the match, the doubles grand slam champion admitted she played the perfect match, “I really did almost a perfect match, I was really in the zone,” Mladenovic said in her on-court interview.
“I love these kind of events — the more the pressure it is, the bigger the pressure it is, the more special is the event. I came out there and I just wanted to win, basically.”
As France held the early lead, the pressure was on world number one Ash Barty to deliver and deliver she did in an equally impressive performance.
A 6-0 6-0 thrashing of Caroline Garcia was exactly what Australia ordered as Barty was ruthless in her dismantling of the French number two.
Eight aces helped Barty power past the world number 45 and the 40 degree temperatures as a mix of variety as well as power was evidence why every rubber the hosts of win this year has involved Barty.
After the 56 minute win the world number one explained how she executed her game-plan, “I think just overall today I executed very well. I made Caro pretty uncomfortable,” Barty said.
“I felt like in the first three or four of my service games I was in control of a lot of the points, and Caro is a player who like court position, she likes to be up in the court. So that was a key factor for me today. And that’s probably the best I’ve returned in a long long time.”
It is now 15 wins in a row for Barty in Fed Cup as she takes on Kristina Mladenovic in a crucial third rubber tomorrow.
Then Caroline Garcia is scheduled to take on Ajla Tomljanovic although both teams could be set to make changes depending on the scenario.
Should the two nations split the singles again then the deciding doubles will see Ash Barty and Sam Stosur take on Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic.
Play begins from 3am GMT time tomorrow, in what will be the last day of a traditional Fed Cup Final before the re-formatted version begins next year.
Ash Barty Heads Australia’s Bid To End Their 45-Year Fed Cup Title Drought
Will it be jubilation or heartbreak for team Australian this weekend?
When Australia last won the Fed Cup, none of the participants in this weekend’s final was even born. Including both the team captains.
1974 was the last time the country triumphed in the team tournament. A perhaps surprising statistic for a country who is the third most decorated in the history of the competition. World No.1 Ash Barty will lead her team when they played France on home soil in Perth. It is the first time in almost 20 years the two have locked horns with both being optimistic about their chances of victory.
“When you are playing for your country and you are playing in a Fed Cup final, it is pretty easy to get up and about and be as ready as you can,” said Barty, who recently won the WTA Finals in Shenzhen.
“It’s a format that I love, I cherish it. This is going to be a really precious week.”
Barty’s performance in the final could be critical to Australia’s hopes. She is the only top 50 player in her team, but Ajla Tomljanovic is just outside in 51st place. In comparison, France has four players ranked inside the top 65 in the singles. Kristina Mladenovic is also the current world No.2 in doubles. Something Barty is wary of.
“Kiki has the ability to play well in the big moments,” she told AAP.
“Obviously she was on a bit of a heater in Shenzhen in doubles and she’s a beautiful doubles player. We’ve seen that time and time again.
“I’m sure, without knowing the team until Friday, that her name will feature heavily on Saturday and Sunday.
“So it’s someone I would love to play and try and right my wrongs from midway through the year when we played in Rome.”
Whilst being the visitors, France are by no means intimidated by the occasion. They have only won the title twice before with the most recent occurring back in 2003. Three years ago, they narrowly missed out on winning the trophy after losing the final match in their tie against the Czech Republic.
Caroline Garcia was one of the Frenchwomen who featured in the 2016 final. She believes that loss has made France even stronger.
“That final was a great lesson for me and all of us,” Garcia reflects. “We now have the experience of losing and we don’t want to have the feeling of losing a final again. We have been there before, whereas the Australian girls haven’t. It is an important factor for us.”
Ajla Tomljanovic has been chosen to open up Australia’s campaign on Saturday against Mladenovic. The match will be her first ever representing her country in the Fed Cup. The former Croatian No.1 was recently approved to play for Australia following an appeal to the ITF. A somewhat controversial decision in the aftermath of Aljaz Bedene’s failed attempt to represent Great Britain a couple years ago.
Tomljanovic was picked ahead of veteran player Sam Stosur. The 35-year-old has played 57 Fed Cup matches in her career and has played in 31 ties. She has won more singles matches in the competition than any other Australian player in history.
“It is exceptionally tough to decide your two singles players for day one. For us it was a matter of match-ups and I feel like we are going in with our strongest two players for Saturday,” said team captain Alicia Molik.
“I feel like it’s the right decision… within this team everyone brought such a high level in practice. It has been difficult, sets have been very close and that’s really the way that we want it. It should be a tough decision.”
As for the second singles match, Barty will take on Garcia. They are currently level at 2-2 in their head-to-head, But Barty won their most recent meeting at the Wuhan Open this year. However French captain, Julien Benneteau, is confident in his players.
“In the first two rounds (against Belgium and Romania), we proved that we could win with different players in singles. It is an advantage,” he stated.
The final will start on Saturday at 11:00 local time (0300 GMT).
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