Sunday, April 25, 2010

USA goes to Fed Cup final

It took all five rubbers to get the job done, but the USA won its second consecutive Fed Cup semifinal today in Birmingham. Guided by captain Mary Joe Fernandez and led by Melanie Oudin, the USA defeated Russia 3-2, earning a second final contest with defending champion Italy. Earlier today, Italy defeated the Czech Republic 5-0 in the other semifinal.

The first rubber featured Oudin against Elena Dementieva, and it wasn't a pretty sight. At 3-all in the first set, neither player had held serve. Oudin then went up 40-15, but got tight and was broken again. Dementieva then went down 0-40, and Oudin broke her on her second break point. Dementieva broke her back, and Oudin instinctively threw her hand over her mouth in what I suppose is now known as an "oops, I did it again" gesture.

Naturally, when Dementieva served for the set, she was broken at love. In the eleventh game, Oudin held, and then Dementieva held, which led to a tiebreak. Dementieva prevailed 7-4, winning the last four points in a row.

As if the first set weren't strange enough--in the second set, Oudin played much better and delivered a 6-0 score. I wondered out loud what fans following the match via electronic scoreboard must have been thinking. The third set was obviously up for grabs, and Dementieva raised her level of play just enough to take it, 6-3.

The second match today featured Bethanie Matek-Sands and Ekaterina Makarova, who was substituted for Alla Kudryattseva. This was not only the best match of the day, but the best match of the semifinal, and featured some fine rallies and good shot-making by both players. Mattek-Sands skillfully took the first set 6-4, but was dominated by Makarova in the second. Winning the second set 6-2, Makarova then faded in the third, which Mattek-Sands won 6-3. Mattek-Sands was successful almost every time she went to the net, which was often, and she hit some pretty impressive winners on the run.

The doubles rubber was really the Liezel and Bethanie Show. Dementieva has not played doubles in a long time, and it showed. She and partner Alla Kudryattseva were not exactly helpless against the USA team, but they offered little resistance. Huber served really well, and she and Mattek-Sands are skillful on all parts of the court. Despite the one-sided nature of this match, it was nevertheless entertaining, largely because of Huber's animated shot-making. She and Mattek-Sands work quite well together as a doubles team. The USA won, 6-3, 6-1.

1 comment: said...

For my part everyone ought to glance at it.