Fed Cup: U.S. def. Ukraine 5-0
In their first match-up ever in Fed Cup history, the United States swept Ukraine 5-0 today in the 2012 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Playoffs on an outdoor red clay court at the Superior Golf and Spa Resort in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
This marks the U.S. team’s fourth appearance in a World Group Playoff, and the first ever win on the road in the playoffs. The team now has a 66-18 record on clay courts in Fed Cup play. Since the Fed Cup home-away format was instituted in 1995, the U.S. is now 8-10 when playing away (27-14 overall). The team now holds an overall 142-32 Fed Cup record.
After leading 2-0 after Day One, Serena Williams opened play Sunday and clinched the tie with a 6-3, 6-2, win over Lesia Tsurenko. With the win Williams is now 8-0 in her Fed Cup singles career in live rubbers. In the dead rubber singles match, Christina McHale won her fourth consecutive live rubber match in Fed Cup defeating Elina Svitolina 7-5, 6-3.
In doubles, Liezel Huber improved her Fed Cup career doubles record to 8-2 with the U.S., teaming up with Sloane Stephens to defeat Lyudmyla Kichenok and Nadiya Kichenok 6-4, 6-1 in a dead rubber. The doubles match also marks the first tie Stephens has ever played in Fed Cup. She served as a practice partner during the 2012 World Group II First Round against Belarus and was a non-playing team member during the 2010 World Group Semifinal versus Russia. Stephens is now the 12th youngest player to make her Fed Cup debut for the U.S team at 19 years, 1 month.
As captain of the U.S. Fed Cup Team, Mary Joe Fernandez led her team to two consecutive 5-0 wins in 2012 (defeated Belarus in February in Worcester, Mass. in the World Group II First Round) to get back into the World Group. She now has a 6-4 record after taking over as captain in 2009.
DAY/LOCAL TIME MATCH PAIRING
Saturday, 11:30 a.m. Singles A: Christina McHale (USA) def. Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) 6-1, 4-6, 6-3
Singles B: Serena Williams (USA) def. Elina Svitolina (UKR) 6-2, 6-1
Sunday, 11:00 a.m. Singles C: Serena Williams (USA) def. Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) 6-3, 6-2
Singles D: Christina McHale (USA) def. Elina Svitolina (UKR) 7-5. 6-3
Doubles: Liezel Huber and Sloane Stephens (USA) def. Lyudmyla Kichenok and Nadiya Kichenok (UKR) 6-4, 6-1
The U.S. has regained its Fed Cup World Group status and will have a chance to compete for the Fed Cup title in 2013. The draw is set to take place in early June this year, which will determine who the U.S. Fed Cup Team will face, home or away, in the first round taking place February 9-10, 2013.
U.S. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez
On returning to the World Group: “It is awesome. We are so excited. That was our goal this year. It was our first time out of the World Group and we couldn’t wait to get back. We did a great job of really focusing and getting the job done so we are thrilled to be back.”
On the first match of the tie: “I think that was key for us to keep the momentum and keep being the favorites with that point.”
Overall view on this year: “We really take every match individually and attack one match at a time. Everyone starting in Worcester did a fantastic job and as a captain, I am just really proud of the way they competed. They were very focused and it’s not always easy when you are away. They did a great job from start to finish. A bonus is that we didn’t lose a match this year.”
On Serena and Venus’ future: “Hopefully both Serena and Venus will be ready to go. I have talked to them many times about Fed Cup and playing. They enjoy it. If it works and if they are healthy I expect them to be here.”
On clinching the point: “It is good. I feel really good about it. Now we are back in the World Group, where we wanted to be and it feels really good to get two points and that way Christina does not have too much pressure out there like she did for me yesterday.”
On having U.S. Captain Mary Joe Fernandez on the side with her: “It is good to have Mary Joe out there. I told her at the beginning of the week, whatever you want to tell me, tell me. I am all ears, I am all open and I am open to any suggestions. I am out there to learn. I feel like I am a kid learning. I haven’t accomplished everything. It is good to have a coach and different eyes out there.”
On the eighth deuce game in the first set: “I felt like I won that game and I kept giving it away. One point she hit a great shot and she won that point, but for the most part I just kept hitting double faults. But that game was really good for me to get through for sure.”
When asked how she felt when she started her match against Lesia Tsurenko: “I just wanted to stay in there. I had a little bit of a slow start but I knew I could just keep fighting.”
Her thoughts on how Tsurenko played: “I thought she played well. I think she had a good game. She has a lot of power and has is really solid on both sides.”
When asked about how her ankle is feeling: “My ankle is good. The tape was just too tight and it was squeezing it too tight. I am just trying to find that happy medium with the tape.”
Overall thoughts on this week and the team: “I absolutely love this team. I love Liezel, she is just so amazing and so perfect. Christina is awesome as well and Sloane and I get along like two peas in a pod. Mary Joe is a young coach, she hasn’t been off tour for too long so she really knows and has so much experience. It is a fabulous opportunity for me, I absolutely love it.”
How she feels about her time in Ukraine: “Ukraine exceeded my expectations. I had a really good time here. Everyone here has been great. I have so many fans here, which is kind of weird. But It is really amazing and really cool. I was kind of nervous about coming here, it’s so far, but I was really wishing today that today was Friday because I have really enjoyed myself here.”
On playing a dead rubber: “Whatever the score was, it was still a very tough match. She plays very well.”
Overall thoughts on the week: “I am really happy with how this week went practice-wise and how the matches went. We have a lot of fun, the whole team does, the whole time. It has been a great week [in Ukraine].”
Thoughts on getting back into the World Group: “That was our goal to get back into the World Group. I think we are all really excited about that. We have had two really good ties this year, and I am really pleased with how they went.”
On playing her first live match for Fed Cup: “ I thought it was going to be really intense and playing with Liezel is always really intense. I was really nervous in the beginning but she was actually pretty fun. We played serious and we played well so it was good.”
On playing doubles with Liezel Huber: “I was really excited to play. It couldn’t be any better than playing your first match with Liezel. I was pretty excited and there will be more Fed Cup ties. There is always a first so I am glad I could share it with Liezel I am excited for the ones to come.”
On returning to the World Group: “It was the main goal. It didn’t matter if the tennis got ugly this weekend or how we won. We came here with the goal to win. Now we are leaving out tomorrow with our goal achieved. We are so happy and I think we should be very proud of our team.”