There was one bright moment for the USA Fed Cup team today: Melanie Oudin, looking very much like she did in the 2009 U.S. Open, soundly defeated Francesca Schiavone 6-3, 6-1 in the third rubber of the 2010 Fed Cup final. Bethanie Mattek-Sands was scheduled to play in this rubber, but after her cramping incident yesterday (Mattek-Sands told the press that she the only times she had ever cramped, she had been ill; it turns out that she arrived in San Diego with a sinus infection), USA captain Mary Joe Fernandez decided to keep her out of competition.
Oudin and Schiavone continually broke each other in the first set, then Oudin was able to hold for 5-3. That was all she needed. When she won the set, Italy's Flavia Pennetta left the stands and headed for the locker room, realizing that her services might be needed.
Though it would have been reasonable to assume that Schiavone would pull herself together for the second set, that assumption would have been wrong. Oudin held, then broke the error-prone Italian at love. Shiavone held at love after Oudin went up 3-0, and it seemed that the momentum would change. But by this time, Oudin was beating Schiavone at her own game. She regained her forehand form, and was able to slice and drop the ball and move Schiavone around successfully. Meanwhile, Schiavone made significant errors, and Oudin ended the match 6-3, 6-1 with an ace.
"I really approached it as 'I haven't had a big match in a while, I haven't played a top 10 player in a while, I had no fear'," Oudin said after the match.
Coco Vandeweghe (could her mother please start sitting with the Djokovic clan?) began her match against Flavia Pennetta by breaking the Italian. But it wasn't long before the USA's representative demonstrated enough inconsistency and poor movement to allow Pennetta to dominate. Tired though she may have been, Pennetta rose to the occasion and expertly defeated Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-2. Pennetta made a total of only eight unforced errors in the match.
Italy defeated the USA in the Fed Cup final last year, also. The Italian team also won the title in 2006.
It has been a great year for Italy. The team won another Fed Cup title, Schiavone won the French Open, and Pennetta was half of the tour's top doubles team.