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.”



USA and Germany Face Off in Fed Cup World Group Playoff

The United States will try to stay in the Fed Cup World Group for 2012 as they compete against face Germany this weekend in the Fed Cup World Group Playoff in Stuttgart.

Order of Play

Saturday, 7:00 a.m. ET

Singles A: Christina McHale (USA) vs. Andrea Petkovic (GER)

Singles B: Melanie Oudin (USA) vs. Julia Goerges (GER)


Sunday, 5:30 a.m. ET

Singles C: Melanie Oudin (USA) vs. Andrea Petkovic (GER)

Singles D: Christina McHale (USA) vs. Julia Goerges (GER)

Doubles:  Liezel Huber/Vania King (USA) vs. Anna-Lena Groenefeld/Sibine Lisicki (GER)

U.S. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez

On the singles lineup: “It is great that we have a very versatile team. Both Melanie and Christina have been playing on the clay and doing well and everyone was a possibility. So we will start with this lineup but it can always change. But this is the lineup we are going to start with.”
Melanie Oudin

On playing Petkovic: “Whenever you lose to someone, if you play them again a few weeks later, you want to get revenge on them. She is going to bring some good tennis so I have to be ready.”


When asked about this weekend’s tie against Germany: “I feel good. I feel like we have been practicing really well and we are ready for tough matches this weekend. Everyone is going to give it their all and hopefully we can come out with the win.”
Christina McHale

When asked about playing first: “I think it will be good to start. There won’t be any results yet so I can just go play and see what happens.”


On the team playing on clay: “I think each day all of us are getting more used to the surface and conditions. I think we will just give it our all and see how it goes.”
Vania King

When asked about adjusting since being asked to come back on the U.S. Fed Cup team: “I feel like I have adjusted really well. Wednesday I was really tired but I felt like I had a good practice. Yesterday I felt really good and today I feel great again.”


On playing on clay: “I am really having fun on the clay, I feel like I have improved a lot on it. Liezel and I are going to tough it out in doubles no matter what, but our first priority is the team. So I want us to win really fast.”


Liezel Huber

On the tie coming down to the deciding doubles match: “If it comes to the deciding doubles match, it means we would have lost two matches by then so I am really not hoping for any losses. It is just something you say you hope it comes down to the doubles but in fact, we hope to finish it before then.”



Fed Cup:U.S. vs. Belgium – Notes and Quotes and Day 1 Preview

Kim Clijsters and Bethanie Mattek-Sands (Getty Images)

United States vs. Belgium

Fed Cup by BNP Paribas 2011 World Group Quarterfinal

Sportpaleis * Antwerp, Belgium * February 5-6

The United States’ quest to reach the Fed Cup final for the third straight year begins at the 2011 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group Quarterfinal at Belgium. Play begins Saturday at 1:30 p.m. local time (7:30 a.m. ET) on an indoor hard court at the Sportpaleis in Antwerp, Belgium. This is the seventh meeting between these two nations in Fed Cup, with the U.S. owning a 5-1 advantage. Belgium’s only victory came at the 2006 World Group Semifinal in Ostend, Belgium, which is also the only meeting between these two nations contested in Belgium.

The U.S. has won the Fed Cup a record 17 times and is seeking its first title since 2000. Belgium’s sole Fed Cup title came in 2001. The U.S. reached its second consecutive final last year, where they lost to Italy in San Diego and also faced Italy in the 2009 final in Italy. The U.S. has only lost a first round tie twice (1997 in the Netherlands and 2002 in Raleigh, N.C. versus Austria) and both occurrences came in the team’s first match after winning the title (the U.S. did not compete in the 2001 semifinals after winning the title in 2000), meaning the U.S. Fed Cup has never lost two consecutive ties in the history of the competition.

This is Belgium’ s first appearance in World Group I since a 5-0 loss to the U.S. in the 2007 first round in Delray Beach, Fla. The hosts have won 10 of its last 12 home ties. The U.S. is a modest 7-8 in away matches since Fed Cup adopted the home-away format in 1995, but has only lost once on the road in the first round in five matches.


The opening day of play in the best-of-five match series features each country’s No. 1 singles player against the No. 2 player from the opposing country. The exact order of play (which country’s No. 1 plays first) was determined at the Draw Ceremony on Friday. The second day of competition begins on Sunday with the “reverse singles,” starting with each country’s No. 1 player squaring off followed by the No. 2 players and then the doubles match. Each match is best-of-three-sets.


Saturday, 1:30 p.m. Singles A: Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) vs. Yanina Wickmayer (BEL)

Singles B: Melanie Oudin (USA) vs. Kim Clijsters (BEL)

Sunday, 1:30 p.m. Singles C: Mattek-Sands (USA) vs. Clijsters (BEL)

Singles D: Oudin (USA) vs. Wickmayer (BEL)

Doubles: Liezel Huber/Vania King (USA) vs. Kirsten Flipkens/An-Sophie Mestach (BEL)

Captains: Mary Joe Fernandez (USA), Sabine Appleman (BEL)


U.S. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez

On the outcome of today’s draw ceremony: “It really doesn’t matter who plays first. Both Melanie and Bethanie have had that opportunity of leading the team with the first match. It’s a matter of playing your best whenever you play and approaching it the right way.”

On the anticipated daily crowds of 10,000+: “This will be the biggest crowd we have played against the last couple of years. Loudest was for sure was the Czech Republic (2009 semifinals in Brno). This (anticipated 10,000+ daily) is about double the size of what we have had. We expected a battle. It is great for Fed Cup. It is great for both teams. We are gonna pretend they are rooting for us the whole time.”

On doubles: “We have always been real fortunate with our doubles. Liezel (Huber) has been a great supporter (of Fed Cup) and been there every time and has played some critical matches for us. I have always said I want it to come down to the doubles. That’s always my goal. If we win before that it is a bonus, but we like our chances if we get down to the doubles.”

Bethanie Mattek-Sands

On the transition from Australia to Belgium for her and Kim Clijsters: “I was there pretty much there til the end, playing in the mixed doubles in Australia (she reached the semis), so I was home (in Arizona) for literally 30 hours and I had to fly here. It’s a lot of traveling, but I have had a couple of days to get adjusted. She (Kim) has probably taken some time off as well. I think on the tour you are used to playing week to week. I think we’re both in shape, so we’ll be good.”

Melanie Oudin

On playing Kim Clijsters in the second match on Saturday:“ I am really excited that I get to play her. It should be a really good match. I’m gonna give it everything I have. I am a little bit happy that Bethanie is going first. It gives me more time to prepare tomorrow. It should be a really good match and I’m looking forward to it.”

On being the underdog: “Our team has come through before when we’ve been the underdog. Hopefully we can do it again. Belgium is a really tough team.”

From  United States Tennis Association Public Relations


Doubles Talk: The Education of Liezel Huber By Megan Fernandez

©Enrique Fernandez for Global Village Tennis News

Doubles Talk: The Education of Liezel Huber

By Megan Fernandez

This week, Liezel Huber is in Cincinnati hunting for her fifth doubles title of 2010, a stretch during which she led the U.S. to the Fed Cup final and usually stayed ahead of Venus and Serena Williams in the world doubles rankings–all while playing with seven different partners and, by her own admission, not playing her best. After winning her quarterfinal match Friday night after 10 pm with partner Nadia Petrova, the world’s number-one doubles player discussed her “unimaginable” year with Global Village Tennis News before calling it a night.

GVTN: How have you handled playing with so many different partners this year?

LH: I still find myself in awe. If you had told me at the end of last year that this would be my 2010, I would have said you were joking. There is so much that has happened in my life this year, and not just switching doubles partners. But I believe that the tough times make you stronger. Maybe I haven’t played my best tennis this year or won as many titles as I have in the past, but I’m really proud of myself for making the best of a bad situation.

Why did you split with Cara Black, your longtime partner?

I need to work on my game. You get really spoiled when you play with one partner. It’s easy to blame that person. Cara and I had a great partnership for three years, and won so many titles. Who would have thought, two girls from Africa? We formed a great friendship. But all good things come to an end, and it just wasn’t meant to be anymore. I’m not looking for one partner.

What do you want to improve?

Really, I would like to mold my game all around, not just be more in the baseline or at the net. Cara is a good net player, and her game complemented me because I could stay back. Now, we’re working on being more aggressive doubles players, being more versatile, going up the line when I want to, having more variety on my volleys.

But you’re number one already!

It’s not about being number one. It’s about being a better player. I’m not defined by being number one. I’m a tennis player who happened to achieve that ranking. It’s not what I associate myself with. I just want to be a better player, like everybody here. Playing with different people every week, I can focus on what I need to do myself. It’s really a challenge playing with someone with whom I might not have a relationship– or maybe we don’t speak the same language, or she plays the baseline and I’ve got to be the net player. But hey, I think you get better when a challenge is handed for you.

You must be in demand. Do you get a lot of requests to play?

I’ve been very fortunate that people come to me and want to play with me. I’m pretty friendly with everyone on the tour, and I’m on the Player’s Council, so that makes me very approachable. I really feel like we have a big family here. There isn’t a person who can’t ask me for doubles. I have had players outside of the top 100 ask me to play, and there are some young ones that don’t even have a ranking that I have promised to play with. I’ve just been very fortunate that I’ve never had to skip a tournament because I didn’t have a partner.

You’ve played a few times with Nadia Petrova.

Yeah, I really enjoy playing with her. We’re going to play here, Montreal, and the US Open.

Can you convince Lindsay Davenport to play more doubles?

I’m telling her she should play at least one more tournament this year because then she’ll have a ranking. But there aren’t many tournaments left in the States.

Venus and Serena are taking doubles very seriously. How does this affect you?

It’s great for the game, and it’s great for me because there’s a focus. Now people say, “Wow, you took the ranking away from the Williams Sisters—that’s pretty awesome.” They are great ambassadors for the game and are also on the Players Council, so I have a relationship with them beyond competing. I hope that they stay healthy and we can play. We’ve had some tough matches, like at the French Open.

What are you expectations for Fed Cup?

I love the team. When the Bryan Brothers would say they lived for Davis Cup, I would think, “How can you say that? It’s only one or two weeks a year.” But now I understand that passion. I am so proud of what we have built. We’ve had a B team all along, and we’ve made it this far, and last year we made it to the finals, too. It’s what I’m living for this year. It’s going to be my highlight of the year, if we can bring that trophy home.

Will you be playing?

I’m one of the doubles players. I still believe in my ability, and that they are the singles players on the team. I believe Mary Joe has confidence in me to put me in the doubles. I truly expect to play.

With one of the Williams sisters?


Do you have a preference?

Oh, no.

Megan Fernandez is covering  both the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters and Women’s Open for Global Village Tennis News. She’ll also be posting updates, commentary and photos on our twitter account – @GVTennisNews .