(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
(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, 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.
(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.
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.
(August 27, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – A pair of 17-time major champions made the first step in their mutual quests for an 18th major on Tuesday night. No. 2 seed Roger Federer and No. 1 Serena Williams both took out opponents in straight sets at the US Open.
The 33-year-old Swiss Federer led off the night session with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4) vwin over No. 76 Marinko Matosevic of Australia. With six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan cheering him on in his courtside guest box, Federer pulled off the shot of the night – between the legs shot, facing backwards to the net, which hit his opponent in his lower back.
— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) August 26, 2014
Federer admitted that Jordan, now 51, was a childhood idol of his. In an interview with ESPN, Jordan said that he knew nothing about tennis and said that Federer is a good athlete and that he played basketball.
“It’s just amazing having Michael here,” Federer said after the match. “Growing up he was my big sporting idol. … Having him here is unbelievably special and the collaboration is unique, so I love it.”
“He was just my hero of all sports,” Federer said in his news conference. “That’s what he was for me growing up. Besides Edberg and Becker being my tennis idols, I had Jordan as my all sports idol. I don’t remember having a Jordan jersey, as such, really. I just remember when I was younger, in Germany it was really big on the German TV stations. I think every Sunday they had unbelievable big NBA highlights. That’s where I saw him doing all his moves. I wasn’t necessarily a Chicago Bulls fan or anything like that. It’s just I was into him, into like the incredible athlete, you know, just being that guy who was carrying basketball at the time. So I guess that’s what inspired me.”
While Federer was entertaining an idol of his with his play, Serena Williams was defeating a player who idolizes her. Williams played almost flawlessly in dispatching 18-year-old fellow American Wild Card Taylor Townsend 6-3, 6-1.
The two-time defending US Open champion, soon-to-be 33-year-old Williams made only 8 unforced errors in a match which lasted less than an hour.
Townsend discussed her appreciation of Williams in press: “I think I appreciate the fact that, number one, she loves the game so much. I think for anyone who’s watched her career progress, we have seen the ups and downs. She’s come through a lot of adversity. I think the most roaring time for me when I was watching her play was when she won that Australian Open, when everyone was completely doubting her, no one said she would win, she was totally out of shape, she was this, that, everything in the book. She literally fought and she beat Sharapova 1-0, 2-0, something ridiculous. But I’ve never seen someone so intense and so, like, driven to win, you know? I gained so much respect for her. Moving forward, I’ve just seen her love the game even more. The older she gets, the more she enjoys being out there and playing. I think her perspective has changed, having fun with what she’s doing. I think the wins are just making it even better.”
“I think it was an interesting match,” Williams said. “I thought she played really well. She started out super strong. She did a good job.”
“I think Taylor is a really great player. I believe she does everything well. She’s one of the few players that can come to the net and volley, as well as she has unbelievable hand speed with her racquet. She’s really unbelievable.”
(June 24, 2014) WIMBLEDON – No. 114 Victoria Duval came through Wimbledon qualifying with a back injury last week. This week she’s taken out 29th seed Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 in the first round of Wimbledon. Born in Miami, the 18-year-old of Haitian heritage, playing Wimbledon for the first time, joined a group of young American women making their All England Club debut including Madison Keys and Alison Riske advancing to second round.
Duval had reached the the quarterfinals of the Wimbledon Juniors back in 2011.
She announced herself last year when she took out 2011 U.S. Open Champion Sam Stosur in the first round of the U.S. Open. ” That was one of my best playing days that I can remember,” said Duval.
“I have my expectations of myself,” Duval said. “I’m not thinking about following up a win. I’m just thinking about winning all the time.”
She said it was “pretty crazy” to think she was actually playing at Wimbledon and that it did not sink in until during the third set.
Duval had reached the the quarterfinals of the Wimbledon Juniors back in 2011.
Madison Keys, 19, who won her first WTA title three days ago in Eastbourne, finally got in the win column against Monica Puig, defeating the woman from Puerto Rico 6-3, 6-3.
“She’s a great player and we’ve played a couple of times,” Keys said. “She’s beaten me a couple of times.
“But I was really just trying to go in and just stick to my game plan, not really worry about who is on the other side of the net.”
Alison Riske joined the USA party by upsetting 26th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 5-7, 6-1.
Missing out on the winning experience was wild card Taylor Townsend who fell to 31st seed Klara Koukalova 7-5, 6-2
“Definitely it was a great experience,” Townsend said despite the loss. “I’m really glad that I was able to get the wildcard and be here, first and foremost.
“I definitely am not pleased about my match, but it’s just a learning experience really. I’m just going to take what I’ve learned over the past two slams. I’m going to go back home. I’m going to work extremely hard and get ready for the US Open Series.
“I have tons of tournaments to look forward to and a lot of great things are ahead, but it’s time to just put my head down and work again.”
“There are a lot of things I still need to work on in my game,” said Duval. Improving mentally, physically and getting stronger.”
Duval will face an opponent younger than herself in Belinda Bencic.
“I’m looking forward to it, it should be very exciting,” said an enthusiastic Duval.
“My goal is to win a couple of more rounds,” she said. “You come into a tournament hoping to win it.”
“My goal was top 100,” which she has reached by virtue of her win on Tuesday. “Keep improving keep winning.”
Karen Pestaina at Wimbledon
(March 6, 2014) INDIAN WELLS, California – Just a year ago a 16-year-old Taylor Townsend made her pro debut at the BNP Paribas Open knocking off top 100 player Lucie Hradecka. A year later the young American, another wildcard and a year wiser, Townsend tops No. 49 Karin Knapp 7-6(1), 6-1, Back in January Knapp extended Maria Sharapova to the brink at the Australian Open.
The match was not a clean one, both combatants combined for 53 unforced errors. “ Neither of us had a rythym on serve,” Townsend said in regard to the back and forth first set. I was just trying to stay solid on my returns, just trying to make her play every single ball.
The former Junior No. 1 said the biggest improvement has been her focus.
“I’m happy with my progress, as far as where I’ve been going, what I’ve been doing. I’ve been doing a lot of hard work, a lot of hours, both on and off the court.
“I’m happy with my progress over the last couple of months.”
“My mental game has gotten a lot better. My coaches and I have been stressing being very mentally tough and learning the game, learning how things work,” Townsend said. “We’ve been stressing that a lot, watching a lot of matches and trying to understand how to play when pressure hits, how to play when you’re up, how to play when you’re down. Things like that.”
Townsend’s focus was tested, just before her news conference when she followed her favorite player Roger Federer into the interview room – as he was leaving, she was entering.
“I tried not to look,” she said with a laugh. “Focus, Taylor focus! That’s what I’ve been working on. Focus please. I played it off well.”
Townsend’s goals for 2014 are to make the top 50 in singles and in doubles. “I’m pretty far away in singles (No. 337), in doubles I’m 189 so that’s not hard. You can have a few good tournaments, here and there and that can shoot up easily. Off the court I’m just continuing to work on myself.
A big test comes for Townsend in the second round when she plays the Italian veteran Flavia Pennetta, the 20th seed at the BNP Paribas Open.
(June 5, 2013) PARIS – Being at Roland Garros is not all about running from Court Philippe Chatrier to Court Suzanne Lenglen for two weeks.
Out on the outside courts, die-hard tennis fans catch good doubles and junior action throughout the two weeks.
One U.S. junior has already enjoyed some success in making that tricky transition from the Juniors to the Pro Tour, notching up a win against the then-ranked 57, Lucie Hradecka, at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells this year.
Ros Satar caught up with the No. 1 junior for 2012 Taylor Townsend after a solid second round win against Croatia’s Jana Fett.
Ros Satar for Tennis Panorama News: Great win today –a couple of breaks here and there but you really did edge it out?
Taylor Townsend: It was good, she came out playing really well, she was serving really well and in the beginning she really wasn’t missing a ball.
We exchanged some breaks and there were a few times where I could have served and gone up a break and a hold but she broke.
But it was a good match, I was really happy.
RS: What was it like out there – it started out quite cloudy but probably by the time that you were playing, it looked quite nice?
TT: It was actually very nice, it got a little bit cloudy and it was a little windy at times.
RS: Enough to whip up that clay into your eyes?
TT: Exactly – it actually got into my eyes a little bit but I am not complaining – I’m tough [smiling]
RS: Is it strange playing the juniors having made your pro debut at Indian Wells
TT: It’s not weird, because I played all last year and I’m still 17 so it’s not really weird but it’s definitely an adjustment that you have to make between going from the pros to the juniors.
It’s nice to see all my friends [going back to juniors].
RS: How did it feel to get that win in Indian Wells, to player ranked 57 at the time?
TT: It was amazing – like one of the best feelings ever, I felt on top of the world
I went crazy, after I did it, I just went nuts like I was a little kid.
I told myself one point at a time, one point at a time, I switched the score round and stuff.
But I was actually on a roll, I was playing really well so I [tried] not to think about it.
RS: What’s the transition like –the biggest challenge and the biggest benefit?
TT: The biggest challenge s definitely the mental thing.
It’s really easy to change your game because the speed of the ball isn’t the same
It’s really easy for you to let up a little bit and not really play to win like you would against the pros.
You can get away with not going for your shots as much and stuff like that, because even though you’re playing juniors, you’re still working on a specific thing.
But the benefits are you get to play matches, good matches that help you compete.
Basically it’s a good opportunity to continue what we’re working on.
If you change the way that you play and the way we’ve been practicing, then yeah that would be a downfall.
If we continue to work on the same line that we have been, with our strokes and playing to win and aggressive style of play, then it’s a huge benefit playing the juniors.
RS: So basically each time you’re playing in the juniors, you’re concentrating on one thing to improve, and when you go to the pros it’s really a question of putting that all together and going for it?
RS: What are the goals that you’ve set yourself this year?
TT: My goal is I wanted to reach at least into the top 200 or better by the end of the year and I really didn’t set a goal for juniors because honestly at the beginning of the year my coach was in Australia so I didn’t really know what my schedule was going to be.
But basically my pro [goal] I think very attainable because I’m at 333 already and we’re only half way done with the year.
I think I can do it.
RS: About the demon dirt – how is it going playing on clay?
TT: Actually I love it, because the clay here is so nice, they take such good care of the courts, it’s just so smooth.
The courts are just like candy underneath your feet, you just slide so gracefully – it’s so beautiful
RS: It’s like ice-skating?
TT: Yeah exactly!
RS: Is it very much a part of your season, the clay in Europe in particular?
TT: Yeah it is.
You go from the Australian Open, and then you have your clay court season, then you have your grass court season and then you go back to hard court.
You’re on hard court six months of the year if [not] more, it’s nice to have the change up and learning how to maneuver, move and how to play and how to work the clay and how to work the grass, it’s really nice.
It makes the season, it makes it different, it gives it a little bit of a unique character.
RS: What is your view of all the US women that have been in the draw? You started with 15, down to 3 but two real headliners tomorrow – how does that make you feel?
TT: I’m proud, honestly – Serena(Williams), Sloane (Stephens), Venus (Williams), they’re all making me so proud to be an American.
They’re putting on such a good face on women’s tennis, it’s amazing.
The guys as well, they’re doing very well – John Isner, Sam Querrey, Jack Sock, Ryan Harrison, all of them are doing really well.
They’re great inspiration for me to just keep working hard [especially] seeing Serena mostly – you keep working hard and she’s in her prime, she’s in the later stage of her career, so it just gives me really great encouragement just to keep working hard.
RS: Are they all quite supportive of the juniors coming up, if you run across them at various tournaments?
TT: Yeah – they’re so nice.
We all hit together and they’re very helpful with giving advice and stuff like that.
It’s just a matter of if I get nervous to ask them a question or not [laughs]
RS: What is your schedule now for the rest of the year?
TT: You and I have the same question [laughs]
I know I’m going to Birmingham after this and then I’m going to play the juniors at Eastbourne and Roehampton and then Wimbledon and after that I have no idea.
RS: Are you going to play the juniors at the rest of the majors this year?
TT: Yeah just the majors really, because US Open most likely, I’m not really sure.
We’re just doing it just to play matches really, and stay competitive because if I wasn’t I would come over here and only play one or two tournaments and then be done.
RS: I guess playing the majors, you get a small taste of what it’s like to play that big an event?
TT: Yeah, Exactly.
RS: Are you doing any sight-seeing, any fun stuff whilst you are here?
TT: Hopefully – I mean this year I’m playing doubles so I’m not at the site all day
I’m not playing two matches so I think my dad really wants to go out, this is their first time out.
I don’t know what to do see because I didn’t go sight-seeing last year so we’re all going to experience this together.
But [definitely] the Eiffel Tower and Champs Élysées and some other stuff.
I’m just asking the ladies in the locker room, and they’re helping me a lot.
[RS writes down a load of suggestions]
At the time of writing, Taylor was into the third round of the Girls’ Singles Draw at Roland Garros.
On Tuesday evening in Paris, Townsend received the International Tennis Federation award for being the top junior girl for 2012 at the ITF World Champions Dinner. Townsend was the Australian Open 2012 Girls Junior Champion. She is the first American junior girl to end the year at No. 1 since Gretchen Rush in 1982.
Karen Pestaina contributed to this interview and report.
MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – A pair of 15-year-olds from the United States, Taylor Townsend of Stockbridge, Ga., and Gabrielle Andrews of Pomona, Calif., captured the Australian Open junior girlsâ€™ doubles title on Friday by defeating Irina Khromacheva of Russia and Danka Kovinic of Montenegro, 5-7, 7-5, 10-6.
Townsend and Andrews have known each other since they were 8-year-olds in tennis camp and have been friendsÂ since. â€œThey used to bring us out into the Home Depot Center and they have the eight high-performance camps and so they brought people from all over,â€ Townsend said.Â â€œWe just decided to play doubles. Easter Bowl was the first time when we were 14.â€
Earlier in the day Townsend advanced to the junior girlsâ€™ final with a 7-6 (3), 6-4 win over Krista HardebeckÂ of Santa Ana, Calif., in a 90-minute slugfest.
â€œShe played really well, I came out playing really well,â€ Townsend said. â€œI went up, 2-0, and then she came back and got up, 3-2, and then from there it was really tight and no one could really break serve. A lot of return errors really killed me because she was holding serve and holding serves at love, because I was missing my second serve returns.
â€œI stayed in the points and I was just fighting at the end. She gave me some free shots, I hit some good shots, good severs, when I needed them. I made sure to keep coming into the net. I couldnâ€™t stop doing that. And in the second set I think I did that more than in the first.â€
Hardebeck, 17, defeatedÂ Townsend last week in the Loy Yang Traralgon International quarterfinals, 6-4, 6-2, and went on to win the tournament.
â€œI was really excited about it,â€Â Hardebeck said of that win. â€œI actually played Taylor last week and I beat her there. It was a great match and a great week there. This week was pretty good as well, so Iâ€™m happy.â€
Townsend said: â€œThe biggest thing for me was that I competed today. Last week, I feel like I kind of less settled because it was a warm-up tournament quarterfinals like. It was very very tough conditions. It was windy outside.â€
â€œBut today I definitely came out really hard and that was the biggest thing keeping myself pumped.â€
Townsend led off the match with a break of serve and Hardebeck returned the favor in the fourth game. Both held serve until the tiebreak, which Townsend won, 7-3, by playing aggressive tennis. She ended the tiebreak with an ace.
The second set saw HardebeckÂ take a 4-2 lead and in the sixth game of the match she saved four break points.Â It looked as though Hardebeck was going to send the match to a third set.Â But Townsend picked up her game by mixing up baseline and net play and won the next four games in a row to win the match, 7-6, 6-4.
Towsend served seven aces in the match in contrast to Hardebeckâ€™sÂ seven double faults.
â€œMy serve was a little bit shaky today,â€ Hardebeck said. â€œIt wasnâ€™t in its best form but Taylor played really well, so there really wasnâ€™t much I can do anyway.â€
Townsend will face the Russian Yulia Putintseva for the junior girlsâ€™ title Saturday.
â€œSheâ€™s a very tough opponent, very competitive,â€ Townsend said. â€œShe tries to get in your head with â€˜câ€™monâ€™sâ€™ to pump herself up. She kind of plays better when sheâ€™s down. Iâ€™m going to have to keep the pressure on her and keep playing my game and being aggressive and, hopefully, Iâ€™ll come out on top.â€
Karen Pestaina is the founder and editor of Tennis Panorama News.
This article originally appeared in the Straight Sets Tennis Blog of the New York Times.