2015/01/30

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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Teams On The Edge

Courier and Bryans

By Vito Ellison, Special to Tennis Panorama News

(February 1, 2014) SAN DIEGO – With the Southern California sun finally making an appearance and a partisan crowd finally making their presence both seen and heard, it was clearly a new day in this US vs. Great Britain Davis Cup World Group tie.  Nonetheless, the American team was still haunted by yesterday’s failures at Petco Park in San Diego.

 

For a doubles pairing that had just kept the American side alive in this Davis Cup, the Bryan Brothers were in no mood for celebrating—or even smiling—about their win today, neither was US Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier.  The Bryans raised their record as a team to 21-4 in the competition on the back of a decisive 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Dominic Inglot and Colin Fleming. Yet, it was clear from the beginning of their press conference that the twins had other things on their minds.

 

“Always feels bad to let the team down,” Bob said.  He was responding to the first question raised.  While the query was about winning this match following two uncharacteristic, five-set Davis Cup losses a season ago, Bryan’s allusion wasn’t lost on anyone.  Bob was as much referencing the still-stinging memories of their 2013 Davis Cup campaign as he was yesterday’s upset loss by Sam Querrey at the hands of James Ward.

 

The Bryans had little mercy on their opponents today, avenging their teammate’s defeat by drawing 45 forced errors from the British pair in a match that didn’t reach the two-hour mark.  Their only hiccup, a loose game on Bob’s serve in the third set, that cost the USA a straight sets triumph. “I think they just take it to you every time,” said Inglot about his opponents. “They always ask a question of you and they’re never going to give you any free points.” “The match can rush away from you,” Fleming added.  “When we got behind in sets, it can become a blur against them.”

 

As uncharitable as the Bryans were on-court, Courier matched in the pressroom.  When asked about Querrey’s chances of springing an upset of 2-time major champion Andy Murray tomorrow, Courier fired with little hesitation, “He’s going to have to play significantly better than he did yesterday to stand a chance.” The British squad, while realistic, wasn’t taking anything for granted.  When asked about Andy Murray’s chances against a player who had just suffered a disappointing loss, another thinly veiled reference to Querrey, British captain Leon Smith stifled the rumor of a smile breaking out on his face and replied “Very good.  Yeah, very good.”

Vito Ellison is in San Diego, California covering the Davis Cup tie between the USA and Great Britain for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on the site’s twitter @TennisNewsTPN, on his personal twitter @vblacklabel. and visit his site Blacklabeltennis.com.

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Expectations, Or The Lack Thereof; Ward Upsets Querrey

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Expectations, Or The Lack Thereof; Ward Upsets Querrey

James Ward

James Ward

By Vito Ellison, Special to Tennis Panorama News

(January 31, 2014) SAN DIEGO – “Yeah, from London, Arsenal fan, see myself as a pretty normal bloke,” that’s how James Ward described himself to the assembled press following what was a rather abnormal moment in his career.  On a temporary red clay court constructed in the outfield of a baseball field, 175th ranked James Ward stunned No. 49 Sam Querrey 1-6, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in 3 hours and 10 minutes at Petco Park in San Diego.

 

Querrey opened the match in ominous form.  Although he only served 52% in the frame, he stormed to a 6-1 lead in 26 minutes.  This US Davis Cup team’s alpha male was doing the expected versus a presumably outmatched opponent and without much help from his most vaunted weapon.  Asked about moving on from that first set in his post match presser, Ward deadpanned “I thought I couldn’t play much worse than I did in the first set anyway.”

 

With Ward unable to inflict much scoreboard pressure early, he waited for his chances, fully knowing that the situation should ultimately reward him with a few. “They’re one rubber down,” Ward noted. “He’s expected to beat me on paper.  He’s not in an easy position.” After splitting the first six games of the second set though, it looked as if Querrey were about to re-establish his authority on the match. Ward engineered an unlikely comeback from 0-40 down on his serve to hold for 4-3 on serve.  The set went to a tiebreak and it was in that pressure cooker that the big-serving Californian first lost his grip on the match.

 

Sam Querrey

Sam Querrey

It was a topsy turvy affair for the next two sets, Querrey opening the 3rd set strongly, riding newfound momentum to a 6-3 win, backed up by a 4-2 lead in the 4th.  From there, with the expectations shifted back to Querrey, the American, up two sets to one, with a break in the fourth, would only win one more game.  “You know, I think he started to gain some momentum and get some reads on my serve,” Querrey said reflecting on the match.  “You know, kudos to him for making some big shots in the latter part of the match.”

 

The crowd, which had largely been out of the matches all afternoon, in part thanks to Andy Murray’s suffocating victory over Donald Young in the first rubber, began desperately cheering for Querrey to right the ship, but to no avail.  The American No. 1 found himself in a fifth set, a place where he had a 2-7 record; in Davis Cup where he had a 4-6 record.  He wouldn’t improve any of those numbers tonight and his loss leaves the Americans with yet another stat line to try to reverse, 0-2.  The Americans are down 0-2 to Great Britain and will begin trying to take the long road back, starting with the Bryan Brothers tomorrow.  With Murray up next for Querrey, it’ll be the American’s turn to play with no expectations.

 

Vito Ellison is in San Diego, California covering the Davis Cup tie between the USA and Great Britain for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on the site’s twitter @TennisNewsTPN, on his personal twitter @vblacklabel. and visit his site Blacklabeltennis.com.

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Djokovic Limps, Serbia Advances: World No. 1 overcomes ankle injury to eliminate U.S. in World Group Quarterfinals

Djokovic 6 32

DAVIS CUP: DJOKOVIC LIMPS, SERBIA ADVANCES

World No. 1 overcomes ankle injury to eliminate U.S. in World Group Quarterfinals

 

By Junior Williams

 

(April 7, 2013) BOISE, Idaho –  The toughness of Novak Djokovic was on full display Sunday at the Davis Cup World Group Quarterfinals.

The world’s top ranked singles player battled through an ankle injury suffered early in the match and defeated American Sam Querrey 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-1, 6-0 to give Serbia a 3-1 victory against the United States, earning a berth in the semifinals.

 

Midway though the third game of the first set with the score tied at 1-1, Djokovic crumpled to the ground in pain and had to be carried off the court by members of the Serbian team, stunning thousands on hand at Taco Bell Arena who were wondering if the six-time grand slam winner would continue playing the match.

 

After receiving treatment for several minutes, Djokovic — who led Serbia to its first and only Davis Cup championship in 2010 — returned to the court amid cheers from the crowd, and went on to actually break Querrey to put Serbia up 2-1.

 

Djokovic said his physiotherapist “did everything in his power after (the injury) happened to make sure I can continue playing. Because in his interest, my interest, and everybody, of course I want to continue on playing. I don’t want to retire the match.

 

“We did tests that indicated I could continue on, that it wasn’t an extreme ligament strain. That allowed me to continue on. I took some medications.”

Djokovic also made it clear he didn’t want to let Serbia down: “Obviously it’s very strong emotion when you play for your country. I guess that’s the biggest reason why I kept playing.”

 

The watch was on to see how well Djokovic would serve following the injury. He went on to hold that game, but it was clear that the ankle was bothering him as he hobbled during and after rallies. The U.S. broke back at 3-3 on a Djokovic double fault.

 

In the eleventh game of the set, Querrey’s forehand into the net cord gave Serbia a break and a 6-5 lead. Djokovic had to save three break points to close out the set.

 

Querrey bounced back in the second set despite a pectoral injury which prevented him from executing his trademark booming serves. The top-ranked American had no aces in the entire after striking six in the first. Querrey saved two break points to go up 6-5, and went on to win the second set tiebreak 7-4. The U.S. secured a mini-break at 6-4 when Djokovic took a Querrey return in mid-air and hit it wide of the sideline. A Djokovic shot into the net on the next point gave the U.S. the game and knotted the match at a set apiece.

 

But in the third set, a Querrey double fault gave Serbia a break and a 2-0 lead. After that, it was all Djokovic. His mobility improved as did his groundstrokes and his service game. The Serb hit twelve winners in the set to Querrey’s five, and had a 70-percent first serve percentage.

As for Querrey, the 20th-ranked player in the world couldn’t overcome his pectoral injury. The result: A 48-percent first serve percentage in the set, and three double faults. For the entire match, he ended up with more double faults (eight) than aces (seven).

 

“It hurt on my serve,” said Querrey. “I wasn’t able to get my usual pop, and that’s tough when you’re playing against the best returner in the world. I was trying, but, yeah, it was just kind of sore there second, third and fourth sets. ”

 

The first game of the fourth set saw Querrey broken at love, and Djokovic swept the remainder of the games.

 

“You take away Sam’s serve,  that is a different change” said U.S. Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier. “That would be like stripping Novak of his movement. That’s one of Sam’s two big key weapons. His serve went from 130 to barely over 100 at times just because he couldn’t get it there because of his pec.”

 

After the final point of the 2 hour 35 minute match, the world number one raised his arms in victory and was lifted off the ground and hugged by his Serbian teammates, whom he saluted in the post-match news conference.

 

“It wasn’t about my win Friday or today,” said Djokovic. “It was just about the team win, the team effort. That’s something that is very special and beautiful about this competition. You can represent your country and you get to be part of a team. You get to feel the team spirit that carries you on to victory.”

 

Next up for Serbia: A home tie against Canada, fresh from a quarterfinal victory over Italy. As for what’s next for Djokovic, he said he first has to assess the seriousness of his ankle injury. “I was planning to play Monte-Carlo,” said the world number one. “I live there and train there, so it feels like a home tournament to me. I love playing there, so I’m going to do everything in my power to recover for that tournament.”

 

“How realistic it is, to be honest, I don’t know. I don’t know what to tell you right now. It’s still too early.”

 

The home loss is a bitter pill to swallow for the U.S., whose Davis Cup season has come to an end. The Americans — whose last home defeat was in 2011 to Spain in Austin, Texas — now must wait until a September draw after the semifinals and World Group Play-offs — to find out who their first opponent will be for the 2014 campaign.

 

But Captain Courier had some kind words for Boise, saying the city “did an outstanding job welcoming both teams … It was a tremendous atmosphere. It’s one of the pluses about the way Davis Cup is played today is the atmosphere.

 

“I think Boise has a lot to be proud of.”

 

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Spain Takes a Commanding 2-0 Lead Over US in Davis Cup Semifinals

Spain is a win away from advancing to the Davis Cup final for the fourth time in five years. In Gijon, Spain’s  David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro gave Spain at 2-0 lead on day 1 versus the United States in the Davis Cup World Group semifinals on Friday.

No. 5 Ferrer, days removed from the US Open, where he lost to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals, moved past No. 26 Sam Querrey 4-6 6-2 6-2 6-4.

“It’s never easy to adapt from hard court to clay, and with only three to four days even less,” said Ferrer. “I didn’t feel too bad, but I didn’t play perfect tennis, either.”

Querrey failed to convert on 12 break point chances. “On a couple of them, I should have been more aggressive but he played good points,” said Querrey. “I feel if I get one of those breaks, it could be a different game.”

“It was a very tough match throughout, he didn’t make it easy for me,” Ferrer said to Spanish television.

In the second rubber on the day, Almagro braved 25 aces from the racquet John Isner to complete a perfect day for Spain 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.

The doubles rubber takes place on Saturday with brothers Mike and Bob Bryan taking on Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez. Reverse singles will take place on Sunday.

Only once has the US ever rallied from an 0-2 deficit, back in 1934 against Australia. Spain is a perfect 37-0 after winning both opening singles matches, since World Group play began.

“Nothing is impossible, said US Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier about coming back from an 0-2 deficit on the road. “Our sport doesn’t have a clock; you have to win the last point. Spain will do everything it can to win the last point, as will the United States, but nothing is impossible,”

“Proud of both these guys. They both went out there and laid it on the line and fought hard. They were two great battles, and all of us on the team are very proud of what these guys did today.”

The winner of the tie will face either Argentina or the Czech Republic in the Davis Cup final in November.

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