July 31, 2015

Italy Rallies Past US to Move into Fed Cup Semis


Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci

(February 10, 2013) Italy came back from 1-2 down to defeat the United States in Fed Cup 3-2 on Sunday in the first round of the World Group in Rimini, Italy.


World No. 1 doubles team Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci sealed the win for Italy in the fifth rubber with a victory over Varvara Lepchenko and Liezel Huber 6-2, 6-2.


“Errani and Vinci are the weapon,” said Huber. They are like sisters. They are like best friends. They can almost see each other’s body language and predict something before it has happened. They have a different style than what we are used to and stick to their style. They are great singles players and don’t discount doubles. I enjoy watching them play, just not against me!”


The United States led 2-1 after Lepchenko beat world No, 7 Errani 7-5, 6-2 in the first of reverse singles on Sunday.


“In the first set, I had to get my body started,“ said Lepchenko. “I had a long match yesterday, so I was a bit up and down in the beginning. Once my body warmed up, I was playing better and better in the second set and got pumped and got going.”


Vinci rallied for Italy topping Jamie Hampton 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 to send the tie into a fifth rubber.

“I had a tough match yesterday, so I had to regroup and do my best for the team,” Hampton. ”First set, I made a lot of errors and started off like yesterday. I got back together in the second set and thought I had a hold of the match, but I made a lot of errors.”



Italy will next host defending champion Czech Republic in the Fed Cup semifinals, a rematch of last year’s semifinal. The other semifinal has Slovakia at Russia.


Next the United States will play in the World Group Playoff, April 20-21, to remain in contention for the Fed Cup World Group l in 2014 and to try and stave off relegation to World Group II next year. The United States’ opponent will be drawn on Wednesday, February 13, at 10 a.m. GMT at the ITF offices in London.


The U.S., who will be seeded will play one of the four winners of the World Group II First Round (Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, or Germany). The host site for Switzerland or Sweden will be determined by a coin toss on Wednesday. The U.S. would host Spain or Germany.


Serena Williams, Andrea Hlavackova/Lucie Hradecka and Liezel Huber/Lisa Raymond qualify for WTA Year End Championships

Serena Williams (photo from FamilyCircleCup.com)

NEW YORK, NY, USA – The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announced today that Serena Williams and the doubles teams of Andrea Hlavackova/Lucie Hradecka and Liezel Huber/Lisa Raymond have qualified for this year’s TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships, which will be staged at the Sinan Erdem Arena in Istanbul, Turkey. The WTA’s year-end finale, to be held from October 23-28, will feature the world’s top eight singles players and top four doubles teams, competing for the coveted title and a share of $4.9 million in prize money.


“I would like to extend my congratulations to Serena, Andrea, Lucie, Liezel and Lisa on qualifying for the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships-Istanbul,” said Stacey Allaster, WTA Chairman and CEO. “Serena has had an incredible year, becoming the only player in history to achieve a golden career Grand Slam in both singles and doubles, and winning her 5th Wimbledon and 4th US Open titles. Serena’s love of the sport and relentless determination to win continues to inspire generations of tennis fans from around the world.”


“Andrea and Lucie’s outstanding play has seen them reach the finals of Wimbledon and the US Open, in addition to winning a silver medal at the Olympics. It is a wonderful moment for them to qualify for their first WTA Championships. Liezel and Lisa continue to set the bar for dedication and commitment, capturing five titles and spending 20 weeks as co-No.1s on top of the WTA doubles rankings. It will be great to see them back in Istanbul to defend their title.”


Serena Williams


This season Williams has added more highlights to her resume, including winning two gold medals at the Olympics to achieve a career golden Grand Slam in singles and doubles, securing her 14th and 15th Grand Slam singles titles at Wimbledon and the US Open, and surpassing sister Venus for the most titles won by an active player (45).


The 30-year-old has compiled a 53-4 record this season and a tour-leading six titles, bolstering her Wimbledon, Olympics and US Open victories with wins at the Family Circle Cup (Charleston), Mutua Madrid Open and Bank of the West Classic (Stanford). She is undefeated against Top 5 opponents this year (10-0), and with her tally of 15 wins, only one player can boast more defeats over World No.1 players (Navratilova, 18; equal with Davenport, 15).


Williams has qualified for the WTA Championships on nine occasions during her career, and is set to compete for the first time since 2009. The American is a two-time champion at the event – receiving a walkover in the 2001 final against Davenport, and defeating sister Venus in 2009 – in addition to reaching the final in 2002 (runner-up to Clijsters) and 2004 (runner-up to Sharapova in three sets).


Click on the link to hear Serena’s thoughts on her season and qualifying for the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships-Istanbul: http://youtu.be/D-xgx4R9gvg


Andrea Hlavackova/Lucie Hradecka


“It is such an unbelievable feeling to have qualified for the WTA Championships,” said Hradecka. “I watched the matches last year, and Petra Kvitova told us how amazing the tournament was, so we are really looking forward to it.”


“When we were planning our goals at the start of the year, our focus was really on the Olympics, but as the results started to come, we began to think it might be possible to qualify for Istanbul,” said Hlavackova. “It’s great that we’ll be playing indoors on a fast surface, and we’re going to have some fun and make the most of the week.”


The Czech team of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka has advanced to seven finals so far this season, winning titles at ASB Classic (Auckland), Memphis International, and Western & Southern Open (Cincinnati), in addition to finishing runners-up at Wimbledon, US Open and the Olympics.


First teaming together in 2008 they have collected eight titles, including last year’s Roland Garros, and in doing so became the first all-Czech pairing to win a Grand Slam doubles title since Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova won Wimbledon in 1990. Both players will be making their WTA Championships debut, and will follow in the footsteps of Novotna/Sukova who were the last Czech team to contest the WTA Championships, also in 1990.


Liezel Huber/Lisa Raymond


“One of our goals this year was to return to Istanbul and defend our title at the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships,” said Huber. “Istanbul was a memorable experience last year and I am excited to be heading there again in October. The doubles competition there will be tough and I’m sure the fans will see some of the best tennis all year.”


“I’m thrilled to qualify for my twelfth WTA Championships and am looking forward to ending the year hopefully on a high note in Turkey!” said Raymond.


Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond are two of the WTA’s most decorated doubles players. This season they have reached eight finals and captured five titles: Open GDF SUEZ (Paris [Indoors]), Qatar Total Open (Doha), Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, BNP Paribas Open (Indian Wells) and New Haven Open at Yale.


Between them, Huber and Raymond own 132 doubles titles, including 11 Grand Slams and 7 Championships, including last year in Istanbul. Huber has spent 199 weeks at the top of the WTA’s doubles rankings – behind only Navratilova’s 237 weeks – while at 39 years of age, Raymond is the oldest player ever to hold the WTA No.1 ranking in singles or doubles.


Huber will be making her sixth appearance at the year-end finale. The 36-year-old is a three-time winner of the WTA Championships, having won in 2007-08 with Cara Black, and last year with Raymond. This will be 39-year-old Raymond’s 12th journey to the event, having first qualified in 1994. Including last year’s victory, she has won the title four times; also in 2001 with Rennae Stubbs, and 2005-06 with Samantha Stosur.


These players join the already-qualified Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, and doubles team of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci. Five singles and one doubles spot remains open for this year’s player field.



Notes and Quotes on USA’s Loss to Germany in Fed Cup


For the first time in since the group format was instituted in 1995, the United States will not be able to compete for the Fed Cup next year. Germany crushed the United States, 5-0, in the 2011 Fed Cup World Group Playoff in Stuttgart this weekend. Germany will advance to the 2012 Fed Cup World Group.  The loss relegates the United States is to Fed Cup World Group II in 2012.

The draw for Fed Cup’s World group 2 will be made during the summer. The 2012 Fed Cup World Group II features the four nations that lost in the 2011 World Group Playoffs and the four winners from the 2012 World Group II Playoffs.  Seeding will be determined by the Fed Cup Nations Ranking.


GERMANY defeated USA 5-0

Venue: Porsche Arena, Stuttgart, GER (clay – indoors)


Andrea Petkovic (GER) d. Christina McHale (USA) 63 64

Julia Goerges (GER) d. Melanie Oudin (USA) 62 76(5)

Andrea Petkovic (GER) d. Melanie Oudin (USA) 62 64

Sabine Lisicki (GER) d. Christina McHale (USA) 63 64

Julia Goerges / Anna-Lena Groenefeld (GER) d. Liezel Huber/Vania King


U.S. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez

When asked about reflecting on the weekend: “Tough weekend. We got to give a lot of credit to the entire German team. They really played great throughout the weekend from start to finish. They were tough and played extremely well with a lot of confidence. We’re disappointed because we go into every tie with high expectations, even when we’re the underdog. We did the best we could, and fought for every point.


On possible turning points:  “You look back and think if whether there was a turning point. But there were a couple of openings here and there that could have turned the tie a little bit. But they were the better team. ”


When positives can be taken away: “I think the positive thing is that every time you go out there, you learn. It’s a learning experience, and it really doesn’t matter how old you are. This is a very young team. But they’ve come a long way in a very short amount of time. There’s still a lot to prove and a lot to learn, and get better. I think that’s the most important thing. Overall, they all fought and gave it their all. This team made the United States and me as captain very proud.”


On the pressures of staying in the World Group: “You approach every match positively, no matter where you’re playing it. Obviously its tough since the United States is out of the World Group for the first time in history. But at the same time, this young team has been to the Fed Cup finals which is unbelievable. So it makes you appreciate that kind of success, and also makes you realize that there’s still a lot of work to be done. It wasn’t the pressure of the tie and trying to stay in the world group, we just came up against a better team.”


On next steps: “Continue to improve and work hard. Get stronger and better. You just keep building. That’s really all you have to do at every age and every level. This team has improved every single year, and they’re going to continue to improving.


On going into World Group II next year: “We want to win every time we play no matter what group we’re in. We go out there, we win together, we lose together. But we give it our all. It would be nice to get a home tie. Its back to doing our best, and hopefully getting back into the World Group.


On Venus’s role: “Venus came here to support the team and obviously injured so she couldn’t participate. She made herself to come and then got hurt in Australia, So unfortunately she was unable to play but was a great team member.”



Melanie Oudin

On playing Petkovic: “I definitely started off well and after I lost my serve at two-all, she took her game to another level and got really confident. She started going for better serves. I don’t think she served that big in her match yesterday. Today it looked like she could go for even more, by stepping in more and controlling the points. She’s playing well, and has been playing well. And when you play that well, it can be hard to beat opponents like that. ”


On losing the World Group: “I knew if I loss this match then our team would go down to World Group II, and that was a little weight on my shoulders knowing that. But I try not to think about it.”



Christina McHale

When asked about her experience in competing in her second Fed Cup: “I learned a lot from these matches, and I have a lot to take away from it. I was disappointed that I couldn’t do more, but I’m going to take the positive side from this experience and keep going.”



Liezel Huber

When asked about the turning point in the doubles match: “For me it was when I was hit by the ball by accident. Although we lost the tie, like Mary Joe said, everybody tried their best and it didn’t matter what the score was going into doubles because Vania and I tried our hardest. This is a team that played their best.

On strategy going into doubles: “Our strategy was to play aggressive and to move and to cross. Maybe this is the surface where you don’t do that, and just stay in the back. But this is also the beginning of clay court season for us, so this match was a great learning experience for me going into my next match. I will approach some things a little different.”