Dramatic Fed Cup semis set up US-Italy final
Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:31
The United States and Italy will contest the Fed Cup final this November after a semi-final weekend of shocks and drama saw defending champions Russia comfortably ousted by the Italians, and the Americans snatch victory against the Czech Republic after being one point from elimination.
Liezel Huber and Bethanie Mattek-Sands saved a match point in the decisive rubber of the best-of-five series, before defeating Iveta Benesova and Kveta Peschke 2-6 7-6(2) 6-1 to seal the tie 3-2.
“At the end, we were lucky” – Huber
The Czech doubles team broke Mattek-Sands’ serve twice in the first set, and then broke Huber twice in the second to lead 3-1. The American pair responded, saving a match point at 5-2 before leveling the set at 5-5 and forcing the tiebreaker.
“At the end, we were lucky,” Huber said. “We took our chances.”
In the final set, Benesova was broken in the second game and sixth game before Huber served out the match on the second match point.
The Czechs had posted a 2-1 lead following Lucie Safarova defeated Mattek-Sands 6-3 6-1 in Sunday’s opening reverse singles match, but teenage debutant Alexa Glatch evened the scores at 2-2 by beating Petra Kvitova 6-2 6-1.
The 19-year-old world No.114 broke Kvitova twice in the opening set to lead 5-1 and converted her first set point when the Czech double-faulted. Glatch continued to dominate in the second set, breaking the world No.48 in the second and fourth games before serving out.
“This has been unbelievable,” Glatch said. “I played well overall. I really don’t know how I’m doing it.”
“She was excellent,” Kvitova said afterwards, before breaking down in tears. “I was trying to fight but she didn’t allow me to do anything.”
The 17-time Fed Cup champions are through to their first final since 2003, where they will face Italy after Francesca Schiavone sealed victory over Russia, defeating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-6(6) 4-6 6-2 before the Italian doubles team closed out the 4-1 victory.
In the play-offs, Serbia reached the World Group for the first time when they beat five-time champions Spain.
World No.4 Jelena Jankovic shook off a fever to beat Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3 3-6 6-3 and give Serbia an insurmountable 3-0 lead.
Also making sure of World Group spots were Germany, who pipped China 3-2, and Ukraine, who whitewashed Argentina 5-0.
Germany had led China 2-0 overnight, but the tie was settled in the final rubber after Zheng Jie beat Anna-Lena Groenefeld 7-5 6-4 and Peng Shuai saw off Tatjana Malek 6-2 2-6 7-5.
But Groenefeld and Sabine Lisicki defeated Zheng and Peng 4-6 7-5 6-2 in the doubles to seal the win.
“We were not lucky,” said Zheng. “We had a good chance to finish the match in two sets and in the final set we were tired and the Germans played unbelievably well.”