Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Fed Cup first round exciting before it's even played

The Draw Demon (I made that up, but you know how mysterious tennis can be) was busy in Paris today, putting together the draw for the opening round of 2016 Fed Cup competition. High on the Demon's World Group I prank list is France vs. Italy, with France serving as host.

Recall that last year, also during the first round, France came back from 0-2 to beat Italy and advance to the quarterfinals. Well, here we go again. Assuming everyone is healthy, Captain Mauresmo will have Alize Cornet, Caroline Garcia and Kiki Mladenovic on her team in the hope that they can pull off some more magic. Italy's team isn't that easy to predict. Again, if everyone is healthy, one can assume that Camila Giorgi will be on hand, and either Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci (or both). And perhaps Flavia Pennetta will show up again. At any rate, I predict another exciting weekend.

But the Draw Demon wasn't satisfied with just tossing France and Italy in together again: Romania will host the Czech Republic, the defending champion. This is as tough as it gets for Romania. Petra Kvitova, whatever kind of mess she might become in another event, can be counted on to slay in Fed Cup play. Oh, and then there's Lucie Safarova (more about her later), who has turned Fed Cup into her personal playground, also. And Lucie Hradecka and Karolina Pliskova and Barbora Strycova--what a group.

Of course, Romania has Simona Halep, with backup from the likes of Alexandra Dulgheru and Andreea Mitu.

Also in World Group I, Germany will host Italy and Russia will host The Netherlands.

Here is the draw for World Group II:

Slovak Republic vs. Australia
Canada vs. Belarus
USA vs. Poland
Serbia vs. Spain

In other French news today, a couple of women advanced to the semifinals. One was two-time champion Serena Williams, who moved up another gear to defeat 2012 runner-up Sara Errani 6-1, 6-3. In the other semifinal match, Timea Bacsinszky defeated Alison Van Uytvanck 6-4, 7-5. It was a well-played match by both women. Bacsinszky hit 39 winners.

In doubles, 2011 champions Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka advanced to the semifinals by defeating 4th seeds Hsieh Su-Wei and Flavia Pennetta, and Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova upset top seeds Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza.

In mixed doubles, Mattek-Sands and Mike Bryan advanced to the final, as did Hradecka and Marcin Matkowski. This means that Safarova, Hradecka and Mattek-Sands are very busy ladies as the tournament moves toward a conclusion.

In singles wheelchair competition, defending champion Yui Kamiji advanced to the semifnals.


Todd.Spiker said...

Bad draw for the Romanians. Although, since the last two years the Czechs haven't had full teams in the 1st Round ('14: no Petra; '15: no Petra or Safarova), but managed to have enough to get through anyway, I wonder if that'll happen again in '16, especially if they win their fourth title in five years this season? If Romania sends the "A" team (well, not the one with Mr. T... but, you know), that tie could have a real domino effect as far as whether a nation with a whole new group of players (ROU, FRA, GER) might be able to win FC next time around.

On ESPN today (disregard the source), they were talking about the word being that the Errani/Vinci split was not amicable in any way. It's still a ways off, but I wonder if they'd have issue with playing together if they were both on the team? Of if, say, a Vinci/Knapp combo would be counted on, so KK could be placed on the roster over someone else. Hmmm, or maybe they'd just skip over both Vinci and Knapp.

At least MJF won't be making any such decisions... then you'd KNOW they'd all be wrong.

Diane said...

My guess--if I dare make one--is that Sara really wanted to focus on singles, like she said, but Vinci wanted them to stay together. Just a guess.

In Charlestn, I asked Sara if she and Roberta might play together in FC. She said they would do whatever their captain wanted.

Todd.Spiker said...

That's what I was figuring (when the topic came up, I actually acted out a ten-second argument between RV/SE in my head that centered on just that reason... strange, but true), especially since Errani hasn't played doubles since the split.

Ah, then that's good then. ;)

Eric said...

Another doubles team I wonder about is the Williams sisters. Of course, they're still family. But I feel like they're not as close anymore. Serena has a whole other life. The last couple times I watched them play wasn't pretty. Venus's unpredictable health is also an issue.

Diane said...

I doubt if anything could ever penetrate their closeness. The thing is, even Serena has to feel some effects of age and years of wear and tear. She's chasing some big titles and probably needs to conserve a bit of energy.