Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova are set for star-studded Fed Cup Final - UBITENNIS
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Fed Cup

Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova are set for star-studded Fed Cup Final

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The O2 Arena in Prague will play host to the Fed Cup Final between Czech Republic and Russia this week-end. It will be a clash between two Fed Cup nations who have enjoyed a proud record in this competition in the last 11 years. Russia won this competition four times in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008 and reached the final three times in the last five years

The Czech team won their first title as an independent nation in 2011 thanks to the contribution of Petra Kvitova, who completed a great year winning the big team tournament four months after her first triumph at Wimbledon. The strong Czech team added three more Fed Cup titles in the next four years.

This year the Fed Cup final will feature a star-studded match-up between two of the biggest stars of women’s tennis Petra Kvitova and Maria Sharapova who recently met in the semifinals at the WTA Championships in Singapore.

Sharapova, who missed out on all four Fed Cup wins of the Russian team, is looking forward to add this trophy to her long list of honours which includes a collection of all Grand Slam titles (Wimbledon 2004, US Open 2006, Australian Open 2008, Roland Garros 2012 and 2014).

“I am looking forward to the final. It’s something I have never been part of before”, said Sharapova.

The Russian team led by Sharapova beat Poland 4-0 in the opening round in Krakow. Svetlana Kuznetsova edged Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4 2-6 6-2 in the opening match. Sharapova beat Urszula Radwanska 6-0 6-3. Sharapova won the third rubber against Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1 7-5 sealing Russia’s spot in the semifinals.

Sharapova was sidelined by injury and could not take part in the semifinal against Germany but in her absence Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Julia Georges in the opening match. Pavlyuchenkova fought back from a set down to defeat Sabine Lisicki after saving a match point in the second match. Andrea Petkovic beat Kuznetsova in the third rubber match before Angelique Kerber drew level to 2-2 with a win over Pavlyuchenkova. Elena Vesnina and Pavlyuchenkova won the decisive doubles rubber against Lisicki and Petkovic to give the Russian team the decisive point.

“I was really proud of how the team came through in Germany because I knew they were the underdogs coming into that match. I am really glad that I have another chance to compete and be part of the team. I had a really terrific experience in Poland with everyone. Nastia Myskina was a really great team leader and I am excited to be part of it again ”, said Sharapova

Czech Republic has six players in the top 100 of the WTA Ranking, including two top-ten Petra Kvitova (twice Wimbledon champion in 2011 and 2014) and Lucie Safarova (this year’s Roland Garros finalist) and Karolina Pliskova (runner-up to Venus Williams in the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai). The Czech tteam line-up will be completed by Barbora Strykova.

Kvitova and Safarova won eight of the twelve Fed Cup matches between them and contributed to the last three triumphs of their team in 2011, 2012 an 2014. Last year Kvitova won a thrilling third rubber match against Angelique Kerber in three sets.

The Czech team opened the 2015 Fed Cup campaign with a 4-0 win over Canada despite the absence of Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova. Pliskova won her singles matches against Francoise Abanda and Gabriela Dabrowski.

Czech Republic hosted France in Ostrava last September for the semifinal. Kvitova and Safarova returned to Fed Cup duty and contributed to the win of the home team against France. Safarova came back from a set down to edge Caroline Garcia with 4-6 7-6 (7-1) 6-1. Kvitova beat Kristina Mladenovic in the second rubber earning the Czech team a 2-0 lead. Kvitova beat Garcia in a close match to win the third point for the Czech team.

Kvitova expressed her pleasure for representing her country in the final which has become a tradition for the Czech team in the recent years.

“Sometimes I ask myself: why didn’t I play a team sport ? because I really like it. I enjoy it more because we don’t have much team competition in tennis. I think we are a pretty good team. We have a confidence from that, We have a good atmosphere off the court as well. That’s really important that we are really as a team and not as individual tennis players. Russia is a tough team but for me it’s great. It’s a challenge you can’t really wish for, playing the final at home against a great team. We had Germany last year  and it was unbelievable”, said Kvitova.

Sharapova has a winning record over both Kvitova and Safarova. The Russian star leads 6-4 over Kvitova and 4-2 over Safarova. However, both Czech players beat Sharapova in their last head-to-head matches. Kvitova beat Sharapova in the round-robin of the 2014 WTA Finals in Singapore (6-3 6-2) and in the semifinal of this year’s WTA Finals (6-3 7-6). Safarova beat Sharapova in their most clash at this year’s Roland Garros with 7-6 6-4.

Czech Republic and Russia will meet for the sixth time in the history of the Fed Cup. I twill be their first clash since the Czech Republic won the 2011 final. Czech Republic will be bidding to become the first team since Russia to clinch four Fed Cup titles in five years.

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Fed Cup

Injury Heartbreak Motivates Australia In Billie Jean King Cup Tie With Mexico

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SEVILLE, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 09: Storm Hunter of Team Australia reacts during the Billie Jean King Cup Finals group stage match between Australia and Kazakhstan at Estadio de La Cartuja on November 09, 2023 in Seville, Spain. (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images for ITF)

The captain of the Australian Billie Jean King Cup team says they are supporting one of their top players after she suffered a serious injury on the eve of their latest tie. 

Storm Hunter, who is currently ranked No.3 in the world for doubles, has suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon whilst training at a practice session on Thursday with her teammates. The severity of the injury means she will almost certainly be forced to pull out of this summer’s Olympic Games where she would have been a medal contender, as well as both the French Open and Wimbledon. Hunter has already won a WTA 1000 title this season in Dubai and was also runner-up in Indian Wells. In both of those tournaments, she was partnering Kateřina Siniaková. 

“Unfortunately yesterday in our last practice before the tie, I went down and scans last night confirmed that I have ruptured my Achilles tendon,” said Hunter.
“I am devastated and heartbroken, but incredibly grateful to be around the team and I know I have a great group of people around me that will help me get back on the court as soon as possible.
“Thank you everyone so much everyone for your messages of support and love. I’m excited to stay for the tie and support our Aussie girls.”

According to the Australian press, team captain Sam Stosur said Hunter’s teammates are ‘rallying behind‘ her and “wishing her the very, very best and the quickest recovery possible.”

As a result of the injury, Daria Saville was brought in to play in her country’s singles match on the opening day of their tie against Mexico on Friday. The world No.94 was in top form as she charged to a comprehensive 6-1, 6-0, win over Marcela Zacarias in less than an hour. 

“Yesterday was a pretty tough day for all of us, pretty emotional,” said Saville who has undergone surgery on her Achilles in the past. 
“It’s so nice to have Stormy here supporting us. Not long ago that kind of happened to me … so we’re giving Stormy a lot of love. 
“I felt like I was pretty determined and clearly that showed.”

Despite the blow, Australia is on the verge of beating Mexico. In the other singles match on the opening day, Arina Rodionova came back from a set down to beat Giuliana Olmos 3-6, 6-3, 6-1. With a 2-0 lead, they only need one more win to clinch the tie. 

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Italian Captain Tathiana Garbin Reveals Rare Tumor Diagnoses After Team’s Loss At BJK Finals

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Former top 30 player and captain of the Italian Billie Jean King Cup team Tathiana Garbin has publically announced that she is battling a serious health issue. 

Just hours after her team lost to Canada in the Billie Jean King Cup final in Seville on Sunday, the 46-year-old issued a statement confirming that she is undergoing treatment for a rare tumor that has been found in her stomach. Garbin had her first surgery in October but will have to undergo further procedures in the coming weeks. 

“I really wish to thank my Federation, which has constantly supported me with extraordinary solidarity and sensitivity,” Gabin said in a statement sent to the news agency Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA). 
“Seville was a very important event for me, and I absolutely didn’t want to miss it despite being very close to my operation: the Federation has shown they placed full trust in me. There is nothing that makes me prouder than representing the colors of Italy. “

Gabin says she hopes to raise awareness of medical research and prevention by going public about her condition, as well as hoping to inspire others with her story. She is being treated by Professor Di Candio and Professor Morelli at the Cisanello Hospital in Pisa. 

“I thank my BJ King Cup girls, who have shown me incredible love and support. Their presence and support have been a beacon of positivity in these difficult days,” she said in tribute to her team.
“However, I would like to inform you that I will have to undergo a second surgery, required by the treatment planned by the doctors. Thanks to the rapid recovery I have experienced, I am optimistic about being back on court.”

As a player, Garbin peaked at a ranking high of No.22 in singles and No.25 in doubles. Her sole singles title on the WTA Tour occurred in 2000 when she won the Budapest Open in Hungary. Seven years after that, she reached the fourth round of the French Open in what was her best-ever run at a major event. 

Garbin has served as Italy’s Billie Jean King Cup captain since 2016. 

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Doubles Delight: Great Britain Ousts France 2-1 In Davis Cup Classic

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Image via https://twitter.com/the_LTA/

Great Britain has won the last spot in the Davis Cup finals by prevailing in a highly dramatic clash against France in front of a record crowd in Manchester.

With the must-win showdown level at 1-1, the tie was decided by a rollercoaster doubles match with Dan Evans and Neil Skupski battling their way past Nicolas Mahut and Édouard Roger-Vasselin 1-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(6). In what was one of the most tense matches ever involving the British team, four match points were saved by the hosts. Evans fended off three whilst serving 4-5 down in the decider before Skupski saved one when he was serving two games later. To add to the drama, in the decisive tiebreaker Britain lost a mini-break advantage twice before prevailing on their second match point. 

“I don’t know how we’ve won that fight, sheer fight. Incredible effort from Dan to come out and win this match with me,” said Skupski.
“The first set wasn’t too good. We regrouped, took a toilet [break] and fought as hard as we could. Dan saving three points in the third set. The rest is history and we’re off to Malaga.” 

The triumph caps off what has been a marathon day at The AO Arena with all three matches going the full distance. A total of more than 13,000 seats was sold for the tie which is a record for a single day of Davis Cup action in the UK. 

Earlier in the day, Evans got Britain off to a perfect start by fighting back from a set and a break down to beat Arthur Fils 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, in what was a close fight. At the end of the encounter, there was a tense exchange between the two which continued during the doubles match with Evans seen making gestures towards the Frenchman who was watching from the stands. 

France’s sole victor was Ugo Humbert who beat former Wimbledon semi-finalist Cameron Norrie 7-6(5),3-6, 7-5. A new confidence blow to the British No.1 who has only won back-to-back matches in one out of his past five tournaments. 

“The team is amazing. We get on very well. Everyone’s played a part. It’s all those guys and girls standing there (in the stands) who are amazing.” Captain Leon Smith commented. 

Britain joins Australia in qualifying from Group B to November’s finals which will be held in Malaga. The team has won all three of their ties played in Manchester with their previous wins being over Australia and Switzerland earlier in the week. 

In total, eight teams have secured their place in the finals. Group stages have also been held in Spain, Croatia and Italy with the top two nations from each of those events progressing. 

Britain is seeking to win the Davis Cup title for only the second time in the Open Era after 2015. 

List of teams through to the knockout stages in Malaga

  • Great Britain
  • Australia
  • Finland
  • Italy
  • Canada
  • Serbia
  • Czech Republic
  • Netherlands

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