Saturday, April 16, 2011

Belgium and Czech Republic tied 1-1 in Fed Cup play

When Barbora Zahlavova Strycova served at 4-5 in the second set in her semifinal Fed Cup rubber against Yanina Wickmayer, what emerged what arguably one of the best games of the season. It was a very long game, in which the Czech player held numerous game points, but was not able to convert them. To keep herself (and her country) in the match, she pulled out every shot imaginable. The highlights included a successful serve-and-volley play, a slide-forward down the line volley, and a drop shot. It took Wickmayer a long time to get a break point, and she won the game, thereby winning the match 6-4, 6-4.

These two had never played each other before, and I was really looking forward to seeing them in their first-ever match. They didn't disappoint me. The second semifinal rubber of the day was a high quality, sometimes thrilling, affair. Earlier in the day, the Czech Republic won the first rubber when Petra Kvitova defeated Kirsten Flipkens 6-2, 7-6. Tomorrow's highlight will be the rubber featuring Wickmayer and Kvitova.

In the other semifinal, Russia leads 2-0. Vera Zvonareva defeated Sara Errani 6-0, 6-2, and Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated Roberta Vinci 6-2, 6-7, 6-1. And while it can no longer be said that Vinci has never lost a Fed Cup match--this is an unusual situation, in which Vinci has been called on to play singles instead of doubles. Indeed, the Italian has never lost a Fed Cup doubles match.

Here are other day 1 results:

World Group play-offs

Germany--2, USA--0
Spain--1, France--1
Slovak Republic--1, Serbia--1
Australia--1, Ukraine--1

World Group II play-offs
Belarus--2, Estonia--0
Slovenia--1, Canada--1
Switzerland--2, Sweden--0
Japan vs. Argentina--postponed until July

The contest between France and Spain is also of interest. Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez defeated Virginie Razzano 6-2, 6-4. The next rubber was a lively one, with Anabel Madina Garrigues playing Aravane Rezai. Medina Garrigues is in the midst of a comeback, of sorts, and Rezai needs to be in the midst of one. The Frenchwoman certainly made a good start, with a 7-5, 6-7, 6-2 win.