Team USA Leads Netherlands 2-0 after Day 1 of Fed Cup World Group Tie
(February 10, 2018) ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The US team may have been the overwhelming favorite in its Fed Cup tie with the Netherlands, but day one of action in Asheville provided plenty of intrigue.
Match one: Venus Wililams (USA) vs Aranxta Rus (Netherlands)
World No. 8 Venus Williams played her first Fed Cup tie in two years against Aranxta Rus of the Netherlands, currently ranked 124th in singles. The match was a historic one for Williams, as it was her 1000th professional singles match. She was forced to dig deep in the second set, but pulled out a 6-1, 6-4 win to put Team USA up 1-0.
Before the match began, both teams were introduced to the sold-out crowd at the US Cellular Center in Asheville, NC. The raucous crowd heartily welcomed the US team, starting with Captain Kathy Rinaldi, followed by Lauren Davis, Coco Vandeweghe, Venus Williams and finally Serena Williams.
The first set went quickly, as Williams routinely served over 115 mph. She broke twice to go up 5-1 and held to take the first set 6-1 in just 26 minutes behind some solid serving. Venus did not face a break point, hit three aces and connected on 75% of her first serves. Williams was particularly effective on her forehand side, routinely pounding shots to Rus’ weaker backhand side.
Set two proved a completely different story. For five games, neither player held serve. Williams went up a break three straight times, but Rus broke back to stay close as both players struggled with their games. Williams, serving at 3-2, had made just 35% of her first serves in the second set as she struggled to hold. After fending off a break point, Williams finally held for 4-2. The match seemed to be near its end as Rus got down 0-40 on serve, but managed to hold for to keep it close, down 4*-3. Two more holds ensued, and Venus closed out the match 6-1, 6-4 in 81 minutes.
After the match, Williams said she felt proud of her result and said the Asheville crowd was one of the best she’d played in front of. “You don’t want to let this crowd down, you don’t want to let your country down. That definitely adds to the pressure. As players, we’re not used to playing in a team atmosphere, so it definitely puts a lot more pressure, not only for of course our team but their team as well.”
On playing her 1000th career match, Williams said “Honestly, I don’t really know about these milestones when they happen. It’s just great to be playing the game that I love.”
With the win, Williams’ Fed Cup record in singles improved to 20-2. She sits behind Chris Evert, Lindsay Davenport and Billie Jean King in the Fed Cup history books for both most singles matches played and most singles victories.
Rus said she started nervously against Williams in their first-ever match. “I mean, she is such a great player, so you can’t just put the ball in the court. You have to do something. I didn’t do that in the first set. Second set I played more aggressive. I tried to move her, I tried to attack the second serve. I think that went well. I had a few breakpoints. I didn’t take them. Against that kind of player, you have to take your chances.”
Match two: Coco Vandeweghe (USA) vs Richel Hogenkamp (Netherlands)
Coco Vandeweghe, who led the US to its first Fed Cup championship since 2000 last year, then took the court against Richel Hogenkamp, ranked 108th in singles.
The American got off to a good start and led 4-2, but Hogenkamp won four straight games to take set one. Vandeweghe threw in seven double faults as she struggled with her game and the versatile Dutchwoman. She got down 3-0, losing 7 straight games in a row before turning the match around to go up 5-4 and serve to take the match to a third set. The American’s service woes continued as she was broken to 5-5 and then was forced to serve to stay in the match at 5-6. She held at love, leading to a second set tiebreaker.
in the tiebreak, Vandeweghe threw in a double fault to go down 2-0 but got the mini break back with a forehand winner for 2-2. A backhand winner by the American gave her three straight points and she desperately tried to grab the set to keep the match alive. She had three set points but serving down 5-6, Hogenkamp threw down an ace to level it at 6-6. An error by the Dutchwoman gave Vandeweghe her fourth set point. An ace gave the American the second set.
Set three looked to be more one-sided as Vandeweghe held at love for 2-1 and broke Hogenkamp after a long game in which the Dutchwoman had led 40-15. at 4-1 up, the American looked to be cruising. She was hitting her groundstrokes with conviction and was smartly moving to the net to end points. A big hold for 5-2 was celebrated by the loud crowd. Hogenkamp held to 15 to keep the match alive, but the American served out the match without drama to clinch a 2-0 lead for Team USA. Vandeweghe’s win took her to a 8-3 singles record in Fed Cup play and it was her 13th straight Fed Cup win. She finished with 29 total winners, including 10 aces against 12 double faults in her 2 hour, 36 minute victory.
Vandeweghe talked about the ups and downs of her match in her news conference. “Tennis is such a mental game,” she said. “I think a match like that shows it. I was quite a bit rusty going out there. Having said that, she gave me a lot of difficulties through the match. She’s
is a very unorthodox style player with a lot of slices, chips, runs a lot of balls down.”
“I hung around long enough in that second set to give myself opportunities. I took the opportunities. Third
set, getting ahead was very important. I definitely saw in her body language she deflated once I started to get ahead.”
“I started to make a lot more balls,” she added. “I really wanted things to happen a lot quicker as far as my play. I wanted things to be really top-
notch really early. I think that definitely hurt me at the start. Trying too hard, trying to place it, be so perfect. I kind of just decided, I’m going to sit here and run. She’s not beating me in long rallies. Let’s just run and grind and see what happens.”
Venus Williams is set to lead the Americans on Sunday with her match against Hogenkamp, followed by Vandeweghe against Rus. Serena Williams and Lauren Davis are then scheduled to take on Lesley Kerkhove and Demi Schuurs in doubles.
ORDER OF PLAY
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
Singles C: Venus Williams (USA) vs. Richel Hogenkamp (NED)
Singles D: CoCo Vandeweghe (USA) vs. Arantxa Rus (NED)
Doubles: Serena Williams (USA) / Lauren Davis (USA) vs. Lesley Kerkhove (NED) / Demi Schuurs (NED)
Stephanie Neppl is in Asheville covering the Fed Cup tie between the US and the Netherlands for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her live updates on Twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal Twitter @stephintheus and her blog http://ihaveatennisaddiction.blogspot.com.
Me and my boo @serenawilliams ❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/NlTcvCKoDL
— Venus Williams (@Venuseswilliams) February 10, 2018