2015/03/03

US Advances to Fed Cup World Group Playoffs with win over Argentina

Venus fistpump

(February 8, 2015) Venus Williams led the USA Fed Cup team into the World Group Playoffs on Sunday when she defeated Maria Irigoyen of Argentina 6-1, 6-4 in the second match of the day to clinch the tie at 3-1. Sister Serena did not play the first rubber of the day due to an illness. She was replaced by Coco Vandeweghe, who lost to Paula Ormaechea 6-4, 6-4.

The Americans will play in the World Group Playoffs the weekend of April18-19. They will face one of the following teams: Netherlands, Romania, Switzerland winners in World Group II, and the four World Group first round losers, Australia, Canada, Italy and Poland. The draw will take place on Tuesday.

The Americans have won the Fed Cup title 17 times, more than any other nation, with their last Fed Cup coming in 2000.

USA defeated ARGENTINA 4-1

Venue: Pilara Tennis Club, Buenos Aires (clay – outdoors)

Venus Williams (USA) d. Paula Ormaechea (ARG) 63 62
Serena Williams (USA) d. Maria Irigoyen (ARG) 75 60
Paula Ormaechea (ARG) d. CoCo Vandeweghe (USA) 64 64
Venus Williams (USA) d. Maria Irigoyen (ARG) 61 64

Taylor Townsend/CoCo Vandeweghe (USA) d. Tatiana Bua/Nadia Podoroska (ARG) 62 63

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Williams Sisters Give USA 2-0 Lead Over Argentina in Fed Cup

 

 

(February 7, 2015) The Williams sisters gave the United States an expected 2-0 lead over Argentina in their Fed Cup World Group II tie on Saturday in Buenos Aires.

Venus defeated Paula Ormaechea 6-3, 6-2, in the first match, and Serena, figured out her opponent and beat Maria Irigoyen 7-5, 6-0.

Venus, who is ranked No. 11 in the world, defeated No. 121 Ormaechea, 6-3, 6-2, in just one hour and 20 minutes,

“There were a lot of deuce games and Paula really competed well,” Venus said of the match. “She started coming back at 5-0 in the second set, so I had to find a way to put it away. I never thought she was going to give up. It was a good thing for our team to get that first point.”

“There were a couple of breaks in the beginning, but there were interesting circumstances to this match—you are playing for your country and it was my first time on clay. I was just trying to find my rhythm. Once I got broke, I was only thinking about breaking back and holding. By the fifth game, I felt good and it helped me a lot through the rest of the match.”

 

It was two completely different sets,“ Serena said when speaking about her match. “I was trying to find my rhythm. The ball bounced differently than in practice and my feet didn’t move as well in the beginning. The balls hit with more spin today and I needed to get used to that. It is also more humid here. The conditions were hot and the court got a few bad bounces. I was able to find my way there at the end and win.”

Serena can seal the first-round tie on Sunday, in the first of the reverse singles against Ormaechea.

Should the U.S. win, they will be in the playoffs in April, for the opportunity to reach World Group again in 2016.

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Serena and Venus Williams Lead US Against Argentina in Fed Cup Tie

Argentina Colombia WCup Soccer

(February 6, 2015) The United States will face Argentina in the Fed Cup World Group II First Round on an outdoor red clay court at the Pilara Tennis Club in Buenos Aires. Play begins Saturday at 11:00 am local time (9:00 am ET).

 

Opening the tie will be world No. 11 and seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams and world No. 121 Paula Ormaechea. Venus comes to Argentina after reaching the Australian Open quarterfinal, her first Grand Slam quarterfinal since 2010. She holds a 19-4 overall record in Fed Cup competition (15-2 in singles), last playing in the 2013 Fed Cup World Group Playoff against Sweden in Delray Beach, Fla. She was also a member of the Fed Cup title-winning team in 1999. She has been ranked No. 1 in both singles and doubles.

 

“I love the game, competition and everything about tennis,” Venus said in Friday’s draw ceremony. “It is a pleasure to be here and represent the U.S.”

 

“Paula is a great girl and a great player. We have practiced a few times together. I have a lot of respect for her and it will be a good match between us.”

 

 

Ormaechaea has competed in 12 Fed Cup ties for Argentina, holding an 11-7 singles record. She peaked at No. 59 in the world in October 2013 and has reached the third round of the French Open twice (in 2013 and 2014). Venus and Ormaechea have faced each other once on the WTA Tour – in the 2013 French Open, where Venus won, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.

 

The second match on Saturday features world No. 1 and 2015 Australian Open champion Serena Williams and world No. 197 Maria Irigoyen. Serena holds a perfect 10-0 singles record in Fed Cup competition, last playing in the 2013 Fed Cup World Group Playoff against Sweden in Delray Beach to propel the U.S. back into the World Group last year. She also helped the U.S. capture the 1999 Fed Cup title. Williams has now won 19 Grand Slam titles along with the Olympic gold medal in singles and women’s doubles, with sister Venus, at the 2012 Games in London. Irigoyen has competed in 16 Fed Cup ties for Argentina, making her debut in 2008, and holds a 3-5 singles record in Fed Cup play. Irigoyen won her first WTA doubles title last year in Rio de Janeiro and has ranked as high as No. 155 in the world in singles and No. 83 in doubles. Serena and Irigoyen have never faced each other.

 

“It feels good to be in Argentina,” Serena said. “It is a change from Australia because we were on hard courts and now we are on clay. I love the clay. We are all trying to get our feet used to the surface, but the whole team feels really good. I am really excited to be playing here for my team.”

 

“I’ve played in some cozy, small stadiums around the world, including the Ukraine in Fed Cup. It’s a great chance for fans and people to come here to get up close to the tennis. I am excited to play for them.”

 

“I have been here with Venus before and we had a wonderful time. We had the opportunity to play with some kids with disabilities during our last visit and had fun playing with them. The city is really nice and we did a lot of shopping and touring and it was a wonderful experience. It is great to be back.”

 

 

 

This tie marks the first time that the U.S. Fed Cup Team has played in Argentina, as it has previously played them on home and neutral ground. This will mark the fifth matchup between the U.S. and Argentina in Fed Cup competition, where the United States holds a 3-1 record over Argentina. The U.S. is 8-11 in away ties since the World Group format was in instituted in 1995 and holds an overall 143-35 record.

 

“We are looking forward to this weekend,” said US Fed Cup captain MaryJoe Fernandez . We had a good week of practice, the club is fantastic, and the courts are in great shape. Obviously it is a big transition for Venus and Serena coming from Australia and changing the surface, but everyone is ready and looking good. We are ready to compete.”

 

 

The winner of this tie advances to the World Group Playoff, held April 18-19, to compete for a spot in the 2016 World Group. The losing nation will play in the World Group II Playoff in April to remain in World Group II in 2016. The U.S. will compete in World Group II in 2015 for just the second time since the World Group format was instituted in 1995 (the U.S. competed in the World Group II in 2012).

 

Fed Cup by BNP Paribas is the World Cup of Tennis. It is the largest annual international team competition in women’s sport, with 99 nations taking part in 2015. The U.S. leads all nations with 17 Fed Cup titles, the last coming in 2000.

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Vandeweghe and Townsend to Replace Keys and Lepchenko On US Fed Cup Team

Taylor Townsend

Taylor Townsend

Coco Vandeweghe

Coco Vandeweghe

From the USTA: (February 4, 2015) Coco Vandeweghe and Taylor Townsend will replace Madison Keys and Varvara Lepchenko on the U.S. Fed Cup Team roster for the World Group II First Round in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Keys suffered a leg injury in the Australian Open en route to her first career Grand Slam semifinal, while Lepchenko suffered an illness after competing in Australia and is still recovering.

 

Vandeweghe, 23, is ranked a career-high No. 32 in the world after a strong start to the year, where she reached the third round of the Australian Open and the quarterfinals of the WTA event in Auckland, New Zealand. Vandeweghe made her only appearance on the U.S. Fed Cup Team in the 2010 World Group Final against Italy in San Diego. Townsend, 18, is ranked No. 96 in the world and is making her Fed Cup debut. Vandeweghe and Townsend join Serena Williams and Venus Williams, who were named to the U.S. team last week by U.S. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez.

 

The United States will face Argentina on an outdoor red clay court at the Pilara Tennis Club in Buenos Aires, February 7-8. The winner of this tie advances to the World Group Playoff, held April 18-19, to compete for a spot in the 2016 World Group. This will mark the fifth matchup between the U.S. and Argentina in Fed Cup competition, where the United States holds a 3-1 record over Argentina.

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Serena Williams Accepts Wild Card Into BNP Paribas Open

(February 4, 2015) World No. 1 Serena Williams has accepted a wild card into the BNP Paribas Open, to be held March 9-22, 2015 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, it was announced today by Williams in an exclusive Time Magazine  article.

She returns to the tournament after a 14-year absence. In 2001, Williams was booed during her final versus Kim Clijsters. The day before Venus Williams withdrew from the tournament, 20 minutes before her match against Serena.

Williams won the match and the title that year. Her father Richard Williams said that he heard racial slurs in the crowd during that final.

Serena Williams wrote about an “undercurrent of racism” that her family has felt at Indian Wells and vowed never to return. She has had a change of heart.

Williams is a two-time champion at the BNP Paribas Open (1999, 2001), has won 19 Grand Slam singles titles in her career, including the recent 2015 Australian Open.“We are thrilled that Serena Williams, one of the greatest women players in the history of the game, is returning to play in the BNP Paribas Open,” said Chief Executive Officer  Of the BNP Partibas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden Raymond Moore. “We know our fans will welcome her for the magnificent champion that she is, and we really look forward to watching her compete again at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.”

“This is fantastic news for fans and I congratulate Serena on her decision to play the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells again, ” said Stacey Allaster, WTA Chairman & CEO.

“She is coming back with a great approach by connecting with fans in support of an incredible cause, the Equal Justice Initiative, to positively impact the lives of others.  Serena has been missed at the tournament and I know she will be warmly received by the fans at Indian Wells.”

In addition, Williams announced she is offering fans an opportunity to be her guest at the BNP Paribas Open. Fans who donate $10 or more to Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), an organization that provides legal representation to individuals who have been denied fair and just treatment in the legal system, will be entered in a drawing to win a trip to Indian Wells and sit courtside during her first match, have the opportunity to return one of her serves during a practice session, and take home one of her racquets. For details and other experiences being offered, and to enter, visit http://www.omaze.com/experiences/Serena-Williams.

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Serena Williams Wins 6th Australian Open for 19th Grand Slam Title

 

(January 31, 2015) Serena Williams moved up on the all-time list of Grand Slam title holders beating Maria Sharapova 6-3, 7-6 (5) to win her sixth Australian Open title on Saturday night. It’s the 33-year-old’s 19th major, tying her with Helen Wills Moody for third on the all-time list, just behind Steffi Graf (22) and Margaret Court (24). The American passes both Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert with 18 each.

“I would love to get to 22,” Williams said. “I mean, 19 was very difficult to get to. Took me 33 years to get here, so… I would love to get there. But I have to get to 20 first, and then I have to get to 21. There’s so many wonderful young players coming up, so it will be a very big task. My next goal was just to get to 19. That was my goal. So I didn’t think it would happen this fast, to be honest, but it feels really good.”

Battling a cold during the tournament, No. 1 Williams remains unbeaten in six finals. She is the oldest Australian Open champion of the Open Era.

“Standing here with 19 majors is something I never thought would happen,” Williams said during the trophy ceremony. “I went on the court with a ball, a racket and a hope”

“I have to congratulate Maria. She really pushed me tonight. She played a great match… not only for you guys but for tennis”

“I haven’t beaten her in a really long time but I love playing her because you want to play the best,” world No. 2 Sharapova said. “And she’s the best.”

It was the 16th straight win for Williams over Sharapova to raise her record to 17- 2 over the Russian.

The match began with the roof open on Rod Laver Arena, but the rain came and the roof close in the first set causing a 13-minute delay.

Williams promptly hit an ace upon resumption of play, winning six straight points which included a break of serve.

Williams was dominant in her serving, hitting 18 aces during the 1 hour and 51 minute match. Fifteen of the aces came in the second set.

Williams celebrated prematurely on her third match point, thinking she had hit an ace, when it was a let.. She promptly regrouped.

“I thought after the let, Man, I am not meant to win this tournament,” Willliams said. “I had a couple of match points. I mean, she played great on those match points. She totally went for broke. I was like, C’mon. First of all, why I hear the let. Then I was like, Okay, do I go T? Do I go wide? What am I going to do? Then I just tossed and served as hard as I could.”

 

“I haven’t won against her many times, but if I’m getting to the stage of competing against someone like Serena, I’m doing something well.,” Sharapova said in her post-match interview with the media. “I’m setting up a chance to try to beat her and it hasn’t happened. I’m not just going to go home without giving it another chance. That’s just not who I am and not who I was raised to be. I’m a competitor. If I’m getting to the finals of Grand Slams and setting myself up to play a match against Serena, I mean, I know it sounds — maybe you’re telling me I’m wrong — but I’m happy to be in that position. I love the competition. I love playing against the best, and at the moment she is.”

“Over the last 10 years her and I have been out of the game. Sometimes she was injured for a period of time; I was out for a year. So, yeah, between all of that, between and around it, we’ve been able to play a lot of great matches against other players. I’m proud to be part of an era where she’s in.”

“I’m happy with the way I’ve handled a few of the matches here, how I’ve come back strong, how I’ve set myself up to try to win another major. It’s not easy to get to the final of a Grand Slam. It takes a lot of work. It’s over the course of two weeks. That’s a good achievement. It’s a good start to the year. The year is very young at this point.”

“It feels really good to be sitting here as the champion,” Williams said in her post-match interview. “I definitely didn’t think I would be here in the beginning of the week or the beginning of the two weeks, but it feels pretty excellent.”

“The match definitely got tough in the second set. Maria started playing a lot better. She started being a little more aggressive. I think I got a little more passive. Was just trying to get the ball back in play. But I also started serving better in the second set because I knew if I wasn’t having my groundstrokes where I wanted them to be, I knew I could serve it out. So, yeah, it definitely got really interesting. I had a lot of moments. I had some easy shots that I missed in the second set on her serve, and then she came up with a big serve when she was down a breakpoint, which was great. But I definitely can look back and say, Oh, I could have done a few things better just for the future”

“I’ve been through so much the past week,” the champion continued. “I really, really didn’t expect to win. I didn’t expect to be here this long. I was walking down the hall yesterday and I was thinking, Wow, I’m still in the tournament. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to the final here or the semifinal. It’s been a long time coming. I was just really, really elated to have an opportunity to walk out on the final match.”

Williams’ six Australian titles came in 2003, ’05, ’07, ’09 ’10 and ’15. She defeated Sharapova in ‘07 and ‘15. Sharapova won the title in 2008.

Serena Williams is halfway to another “Serena Slam” having won the 2014 US Open and now the Australian Open. The next major and second leg of the calendar Grand Slam will be the French Open in May.

“When I think about Paris, I don’t think about 20,” Williams said. “I just think about winning there. It’s the one slam I don’t have more than two titles on. I only have two there. Sorry. That and Wimbledon I’ve been struggling. Yeah, so I think, okay, now that I got this under my belt. I’m a little more comfortable with my ranking now. Now I can really move. Like I did so bad last year at Roland Garros, and Wimbledon as well. So those are the two I really have my eye on, because I would like to do better at those. And I know I can do better. I’m not going into it not as number 20, but I want to win Roland Garros.”

 

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Serena Williams Win Sets Up Australian Open Final Against Maria Sharapova

(January 29, 2015) For the first time since 2004, the Australian Open women’s final will feature No. 1 versus No. 2. Top seed and five-time Australian Open winner Serena Williams will take on 2008 champion Maria Sharapova for the title on Saturday.

Both women won straight set matches on Thursday to advance. Williams won a slugfest of big serves and hard groundstrokes against 19-year-old Madison Keys in a battle between Americans 7-6 (5), 6-2. Williams was pushed by Keys at the very end, needing nine match points to close the contest. Sharapova had a much easier time against Russian countrywoman No. 10 Ekaterina Makarova 6-3, 6-2.

For the 33-year-old Williams, she is seeking her sixth Australian Open title and 19th major. She last won the Australian Open in 2010. Sharapova will be trying to claim her second Melbourne title and sixth Grand Slam title.

“She (Keys) pushed me really hard the first set ……. and I had to really dig deep mentally to get through that,” said a coughing Williams who has been ill for several days. “It was a little frustrating, I had like nine or 10 match points and couldn’t close it out. That doesn’t happen so much. She played like she didn’t have anything to lose.”

“I think she’s going to be winning this tournament very soon and lots of other Grand Slams,” said Williams to ESPN.

A total of 25 aces were hit during the match – 13 for Williams, 12 for Keys. Williams hit 19 winners to 16 unforced errors to Keys 27 winners to 39 unforced errors.

“I was impressed by her ability to stay in the match,” Said Williams. She never let up at all till the end. I think that is a really great quality to have.

“Well, I was just happy to get through it today. And I think I was able to serve big when I needed to. So that really helped me out a lot.”

“I’m really happy to have gotten this far in a tournament,” Keys said. “It’s my first one. Just looking forward to having more. Hopefully have a couple where I’m with the trophy at the end of the week.”

“I think I handled the moment pretty well. I definitely had a good start, so nerves didn’t totally play into that. I thought I handled myself pretty well in that last serving game of mine. But, I mean, she played really well. She served really well. It was pretty much impossible for me to break her serve. So, you know, great job to her today.”

“I think this week has definitely more shown to me, more than anyone else, that I can play the top players and I can do well against them. I can play the No. 1 player in the world in a pretty close match. So I think for me that’s inspiration for every time I’m on a practice court to keep working, keep getting better so I can have more and more weeks like that.”

 

Sharapova was pleased with her decisive win on Thursday. “I’m definitely happy. Like today, I thought I played solid. I did everything I had to do. I wasn’t afraid for it to become a physical match. You know, I think it was important to really stand my ground in the first few games, which I did well, even though I was behind, especially the first and second one. But, yeah, those key moments are really important. Yeah, definitely happy I was able to win really solid today.”

The No. 2 player’s road to the final had one major bump – she saved two match points in the second round of the tournament coming back to beat No. 150 Russian qualifier Alexandra Panova.

“It’s been a strange road for me to get to the finals, but I’m happy,” said Sharapova. “Came from behind in a few, really behind in one – saving match points. I felt like I was given a second chance. I just wanted to take my chances.”

Williams is 16-2 against Sharapova, with her last loss to the Russian coming in 2004. Williams has won the last 15 straight matches against Sharapova. Regardless who wins the final, Williams will remain in the top spot after the tournament.

“Everyone’s expecting me to win, “Williams said to ESPN. But I have to win. I’m glad No. 1 and No. 2 are in the final and I think it will be a good match.”

“Maria is playing great,” Williams said in her post-match news conference. “She’s in the tournament only because she’s a fighter and only because she refuses to give up. So, yeah, it’s a new match. She has nothing to lose, once again. She has only things to gain. And I feel that way, too. I feel I don’t. I’ve won this tournament several times. I don’t have to go out there and have another title. I want it, but it’s not life or death for me. I think that helps me he relax. So, yeah, she absolutely has nothing to lose, and I have nothing to lose, so it will be fun.”

Asked about what about Williams’ game give her trouble, Sharapova responded: “I think her power and her aggressiveness, I think that’s always made me a little bit too aggressive, maybe going for a little bit more than I had to. You know, she’s great at making players hit that shot that you don’t necessarily have to go for. You know, maybe going for a little too much, going on the line. It’s been a really difficult matchup for me, but, you know, I am a competitor. If I do play her, I will go out and I will do everything I can to try to change that result around.”

“I think my confidence should be pretty high going into a final of a Grand Slam no matter who I’m facing against and whether I’ve had a terrible record, to say the least, against someone” said the 27-year-old. “It doesn’t matter. I got there for a reason. I belong in that spot. I will do everything I can to get the title.”

“I’ve had many great memories on Rod Laver Arena. I’ve hopefully set myself up for another good one.”

“I think it’s great for women’s tennis,” Williams remarked about No. 1 versus No. 2. “I think it’s good for me and Maria. I’m excited. Like I said, I love playing her. I look forward to it. I didn’t expect to get to the finals of this tournament when I first got here because I wasn’t playing great. So I’m happy to be here. Yeah, I’m just happy, like I said, to get past the quarterfinals of a slam. Fourth round actually, outside the Open.”

No. 6 Andy Murray advanced to his fourth Australian Open final defeating No. 7 Tomas Berdych 6-7 (6), 6-0, 6-3, 7-5.

On the court there was obvious tension during this night match due to one of Andy Murray’s coaching team switching over to Berdych’s in the off-season.

There were profanities being yelled between the players on the court and during the first set of the match it appeared that Murray’s fiance Kim Sears was caught on camera cursing at Berdych.

“Obviously losing in the finals is disappointing. But making four finals is a very, very difficult thing to do,”Murray said. “And, yeah, I’m proud of my record here. I’ll go in with best tactics possible, prepare well – I literally couldn’t have done anything more to put myself in a better position come Sunday.”

Murray, who has been coached by former No. 1 player Amelie Mauresmo since June, had come under scrutiny for his choice of a female coach.  After the match on Thursday night he paid tribute to female coaches: “A lot of people criticized me working with her,” said Murray. “And I think so far this week we’ve showed that women can be very good coaches as well.”

“Madison Keys, who reached the semis here and had her best tournament, is also coached by a woman, Lindsay Davenport, and I see no reason why that can’t keep moving forward like that in the future.”

Murray will play the winner of the Novak Djokovic –  Stan Wawrinka match in Sunday’s final.

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Serena and Venus Williams to lead US Fed Cup Team Against Argentina

USAFEDCUP

From the USTA: WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., January 28, 2015 — The USTA and United States Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez today announced that world No. 1 and 18-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams, former world No. 1 and world No. 18 Venus Williams, No. 30 Varvara Lepchenko and No. 35 and 2015 Australian Open semifinalist Madison Keys will represent the U.S. in the 2015 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II First Round against Argentina. The best-of-five match series will be played at the Pilara Tennis Club in Buenos Aires, Feb. 7-8. Former world junior No. 1 Taylor Townsend will also be joining the team in Argentina as a fifth member of the team and practice partner.

 

The winner of this match advances to the World Group Playoff, held April 18-19, to compete for a spot in the 2016 World Group. The losing nation will play in the World Group II Playoff in April to remain in World Group II in 2016. The U.S. will compete in World Group II in 2015 for just the second time since the World Group format was instituted in 1995. (The U.S. also competed in the World Group II in 2012; it has competed in the World Group all other years.)

 

Argentina Fed Cup Captain Maria-Jose Gaidano named world No. 124 Paula Ormaechea, No. 198 Maria Irigoyen, No. 394 Nadia Podoroska and No. 551 Tatiana Bua to the Argentina team.

 

“We have an incredible amount of talent on this Fed Cup team, with three Australian Open quarterfinalists and four Top 40 players,” said Fernandez. “We are thrilled to be led by Serena, one of the greatest players of all time, as well as Venus, who is playing at the top of her game. I am so proud of Madison and her results in Australia and happy to have her on the team, as well as Varvara, who performs well in Fed Cup and has had a strong start to the year. I have full confidence in this team to play some great tennis in Argentina and help us get one step closer to earning our way back into the World Group next year.”

 

Matches begin on Saturday, Feb. 7, with two singles matches featuring each country’s No. 1 player against the other country’s No. 2 player. Sunday’s schedule features two “reverse singles” matches, when the No. 1 players square off, then the No. 2 players meet, followed by a doubles match. Play on Saturday and Sunday begins at 11 a.m. local time (9 a.m. ET). Tennis Channel will present daily coverage.

 

The United States holds a 3-1 record over Argentina in Fed Cup. The U.S. last faced Argentina in the 2009 World Group Quarterfinal in Surprise, Ariz., where the U.S. won, 3-2, in a fifth-and-decisive doubles rubber won by Julie Ditty and Liezel Huber. The U.S.’s only loss to Argentina came in 1993 in the World Group Quarterfinal in Germany. The two nations also faced each other in 1985 (in Japan) and in 1964 (in Philadelphia). The U.S. has never played Fed Cup in the country of Argentina; all other matches were either at home or on neutral ground. The U.S. is 8-11 in away ties since the World Group format was in instituted in 1995 and holds an overall 143-35 record.

 

World No. 1 Serena Williams, 33, holds a 10-0 singles record and 3-0 doubles record in Fed Cup competition, last playing in the 2013 Fed Cup World Group Playoff against Sweden in Delray Beach, Fla., to propel the U.S. back into the World Group last year. She also helped the U.S. capture the 1999 Fed Cup title. Williams won her 18th Grand Slam title at the 2014 US Open and captured the Olympic gold medal in singles and women’s doubles, with sister Venus, at the 2012 Games in London. With the Olympic singles win, Williams joined Steffi Graf as the only women to complete the Golden Slam—the Olympics and the four Grand Slam events—and she is the only person to accomplish the feat in both singles and doubles. Williams regained the No. 1 ranking in the world on Feb. 18, 2013, becoming the oldest woman (at age 31) to hold the top spot since the WTA computer rankings were introduced in November 1975. This was Williams’ sixth stint at No. 1 and took place nearly 11 years after she first became the No. 1-ranked tennis player in the world. Williams has won 64 WTA singles titles and has also been ranked No. 1 in doubles in her career. (She holds 21 doubles titles with sister Venus, including 13 Grand Slam women’s doubles titles.) Williams is currently in the semifinals of the Australian Open and will face Madison Keys on Thursday.

 

World No. 18 Venus Williams, 34, reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal since 2010 at this year’s Australian Open. She re-entered the Top 20 in 2013 for the first time since revealing that she had been diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disorder, following the 2011 US Open. Venus holds a 19-4 overall record in Fed Cup competition (15-2 in singles), last playing in the 2013 Fed Cup World Group Playoff against Sweden in Delray Beach. She was also a member of the title-winning team in 1999. Venus is a seven-time Grand Slam singles champion and has won 46 WTA singles titles. She has been ranked No. 1 in both singles and doubles. In Olympic play, she has won three gold medals in doubles (with Serena) in 2000, 2008 and 2012, and she captured the singles gold medal in 2000. Venus reached the quarterfinals of the 2015 Australian Open—her first Grand Slam quarterfinal since 2010.

 

Lepchenko, 28, is currently ranked No. 30 in the world. She made her Fed Cup debut in the 2013 World Group First Round in Rimini, Italy, where she posted singles victories over then-world No. 8 Sara Errani and then-world No. 16 Roberta Vinci. Lepchenko was also named to the U.S. Fed Cup team for the 2013 World Group Playoff against Sweden in Delray Beach. She peaked at a career-high No. 19 in October 2012 and reached the fourth round of the 2012 French Open—her best result at a Grand Slam event—which qualified her for the U.S. Olympic team. In 2014, she reached her first WTA final in Seoul, upsetting top seed Agnieszka Radwanska. This year, Lepchenko reached the semifinals of the Australian Open tune-up event in Brisbane and the third round of the Australian Open. A native of Uzbekistan, Lepchenko has been living in the U.S. since 2001 after receiving political asylum, and she officially changed her nationality in 2007 to play for the U.S. She became an official U.S. citizen in Sept. 2011.

 

World No. 35 Keys, 19, is named to her third consecutive Fed Cup team after making her debut for the U.S. Fed Cup team last year, competing in the World Group First Round in Cleveland against Italy. (She also played in the World Group Playoff in St. Louis against France.) So far in her career, Keys has gone 1-2 in singles and 1-1 in doubles in Fed Cup. Keys advanced to her first career Grand Slam semifinal at this year’s Australian Open, where she upset No. 4 seed Petra Kvitova and No. 18 seed Venus Williams. Keys peaked at No. 27 in the world last July after winning her first WTA title at the grass-court event in Eastbourne, Great Britain. Also in 2014, she reached the semifinals of the WTA Australian Open tune-up event in Sydney and the French Open tune-up event in Strasbourg. In 2011, shebecame the youngest player to win a main draw match at the US Open since Nicole Vaidisova in 2005. And in 2009, she became the youngest player (14 years, 48 days) since Martina Hingis in 1994 to win a WTA match. Keys is coached by former world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport and her husband, Jon Leach.

 

The United States leads all nations with 17 Fed Cup titles, the last coming in 2000. Fed Cup by BNP Paribas is the World Cup of Tennis. It is the largest annual international team competition in women’s sport, with 99 nations taking part in 2015. For

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Serena Williams to face Madison Keys in Australian Open Semifinal

Madison Keys

Madison Keys

(January 28, 2015) No. 1 Serena Williams and No. 35 Madison Keys booked spots in Australian Open semifinals on Wednesday. Keys broke up what could have been an “all-Williams” semifinal when the 19-year-old knocked out 34-year-old Venus Williams 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to reach her first Grand Slam final four.

Serena Williams had a much easier time advancing, dismissing last year’s Australian Open losing finalist Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-2 in 69 minutes, is still on track to try and win her 19th major and sixth Australian Open title.

Statistics tell the story for the world No. 1 American who hit 58 winners including 15 aces and made only 18 unforced errors against the Slovak. Williams has won the title at Melbourne Park each of the five previous times she has advanced to the semifinals.

“I feel I played well,” said Serena. “I felt I had to. I feel like when you’re going up against a player like that who is confident on the court – she just had a few good matches – I knew that I needed to really play well or go home.”

“It was tough match for me today,” No. 11 Cibulkova said. “She was just playing really well today, I have to say. She was putting so much pressure from the serve and return. I didn’t have a chance to play my game. Just felt under so much pressure. It was a good day for her.

“It’s the way I struggle with reading her serves. I just don’t put many first returns in the game. That’s what makes it tough. And also then I feel under a bigger pressure on my serve. That’s why I try to go for much more first serve today. It just didn’t go in. Then my second serve, she was just going for it. Yeah, that’s make it really tough. She tries to make the rallies much shorter and not to get me in the rhythm. Yeah, that’s it.”

In a battle between tennis generations, Venus Williams and Keys, it was the first All-American quarterfinal since Sloane Stephens beat Serena Williams in Melbourne Park back in 2013.

After a dominant first set by Keys, who is now coached by former No. 1 and three-time slam winner Lindsay Davenport, she had to overcome a left leg injury and rally from a break down in the third set to win the match. Keys completed the match with 34 winners to 45 unforced errors, while Venus hit 10 winners to 38 unforced errors. The match saw 12 service breaks.

“I definitely didn’t serve as consistently as I wanted to,” said the seven-time major champion. “I felt like just not as aggressive off the ground as I would have liked. So I think in this kind of match you have to be aggressive. Like I said, I give a lot of credit to her because she really set her points up. She was swinging freely. Most of them went in for her. So it was just, you know, great for her.”

“It already feels like a long season already, so many matches in a row,” Williams said. “But it’s a great start. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep this level up.”

Venus is 9-1 on the year, having won the tournament in Auckland.

“I think she played really well,” Venus said “Of course, I have to give credit to her just for playing well, landing a lot of great shots I think is ultimately — ultimately she played really well.

Venus hadn’t reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam since the U.S. Open in 2010 since being diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome in 2011, an auto-immune disease which causes fatigue.

“I think just being able to come back from being down and from not being able to move as well, not having as effective of a serve, just being able to kind of grind through that, still figure it out, manage to win some points, is what I’m most happy about,” Keys said about her left abductor injury.

“It was definitely one of those things where it wasn’t nearly as bad as Wimbledon, but it was that nightmare of `I don’t want this to happen again,’” Keys said. “Luckily the pain meds kicked in.”

“I mean, it definitely feels amazing,” said the teenager about the victory. “It’s one of those things where you want to feel this way all the time. But it’s not, you know, this unbelievable excitement either ’cause you want to keep winning and you want to keep doing better. I am very happy and I am very excited, but also not getting too far ahead of myself and being too content where I am.”

This is the third straight year that a teenager has reached the Australian Open semifinals: 2013 – Sloane Stephens, 2014 – Eugenie Bouchard and 2015 – Keys.

“I think Genie and Sloane are both really talented and can play some really good tennis,” Keys said.” It’s not super surprising they made semifinals. But, no, it’s one of those things when you see some of your fellow peers doing well, going deep in tournaments, it’s inspirational. Makes you kind of believe that you can do the same.”

About how Venus sees Keys’ future: “Sky’s the limit. There is no limit on what you can achieve. No one can stop you. Sometimes you may not win every match, but there’s a lot of them you can win. Really the sky’s the limit for her and anyone out there.”

On playing Serena next, Keys said: “It’s just one of those things where I have to go out and I have to do my best and I have to really just have to stay focused on my side of the court, because she’s obviously very, very good and she’s going to play very well. So if I get too focused on what she’s doing I think I can kind of let the moment get away from me. So I’m just really going to stay focused on myself.”

Serena on playing Keys:“I think she likes the surface. I’m just happy to be in the semis, and whatever happens an American will be in the final.”

“She’s playing great. I told her I was really happy that she did well. She’s in the semis. It’s good to see another American, another African American, in the semifinals playing so well. Regardless, there’s going to be an American in the finals, so that is great. It’s also great for me and Venus because we know that finally there’s other Americans that are constantly playing well and playing better, showing that they want to be the world’s greatest.”

On the men’s side of the draw, No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka posted straight set wins to reach the semifinals. Djokovic defeated Milos Raonic 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-2 to gain his 25 major semifinal, while defending champion Wawrinka dominated Kei Nishokori with a powerful backhand 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (6).

This sets up a repeat of the last year’s dramatic quarterfinal which Wawrinka won in five sets.

 

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Venus Williams Reaches First Grand Slam Quarterfinal Since 2010

(January 26, 2015) Seven-time major champion and former No. 1 Venus Williams reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal since 2010 on Monday when she upset No. 6 Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 at the Australian Open.

Venus Williams is one win away from a potential semifinal match against her sister Serena Williams. The 34-year-old Venus will play 19-year-old American Madison Keys in the quarterfinals.

Williams had not been past the fourth round of any major since Wimbledon in 2011. Venus Williams had been formally diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome in the fall of 2011. The auto-immune disorder causes extreme fatigue.

No. 18 Williams was aggressive in her play against Radwanska – she hit 43 winners and made 36 unforced errors to her opponent’s 23 winners and 19 unforced errors.

Williams came into the net with success, winning 24 out of 40 points there.

Venus was broken to begin the third set and then surged past Radwanska.

“Honestly, I don’t know, “Williams said. “I just felt like in the third set I was trying to get back to the form that I was in in the first set. I didn’t do a lot wrong in that first game. It was just overhit some, missed an easy one that would have definitely helped my cause. It was frustrating but I stayed focused and I wanted to just continue playing like I did in the first game because it was really the right way to play.”

With the win, it marks the 21st time that both Venus and Serena have reached the quarterfinals of the same major.

“For me I’m just really focused and poised right now,” said Venus. “I feel like I’ve been here before, so it’s not like I’m jumping up and down for joy, Oh, shoot, what is this? I’ve never done this. Yes, I’ve done this. This is what I’m always going into each tournament thinking I want to do, even when I fall short. It’s definitely not the first time. I guess that’s how I feel.”

“I think I played well when it mattered. Her style of game was completely different than the first three players I played. The first three players I played tried to blast me off the court. This was the first time there was any sort of rhythm at all. The way she hits the ball is so different. A lot of times, especially for a player like me, you feel like, Wow, why am I not hitting more winners? That’s not just always the answer. It’s definitely a balance between being aggressive and being patient and being smart because the way she plays is very deceptive. Not everyone plays that way. Definitely a good win against her.”

Serena Williams Gets French Open Revenge to Reach Australian Open Quarterfinals

 

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