Osaka Suffers Defeat To Tormo In Fed Cup

Japan´s Naomi Osaka returns the ball to Spain´s Sara Sorribes during their Fed Cup Qualifiers first-round match between Spain and Japan on February 7, 2020 at La Manga Club in Cartagena.  AFP

 

A tearful Naomi Osaka followed up her Australian Open disappointment with another surprise defeat on Friday when she was beaten 6-0, 6-3 by world number 78 Sara Sorribes Tormo in the Fed Cup.

Spain took an unexpected lead over Japan in the tie in Cartagena after Sorribes Tormo capitalised on a careless performance from Osaka, who made an astonishing 50 unforced errors in the 15 games.

Carla Suarez Navarro then made it 2-0 to the hosts after she eased past Misaki Doi 6-3, 6-4.

Sorribes Tormo enjoyed the backing of a sizeable home crowd at La Manga Club and her consistency proved too much for Osaka, who has never played her best on clay.

“We knew that Sara had the game to make it very uncomfortable for Naomi,” Spain captain Anabel Medina Garrigues said. “She stuck to the game plan perfectly.”

The winners of the eight qualifying ties will join four automatic entries, holders France, Australia, Czech Republic and hosts Hungary, in the inaugural Fed Cup Finals in Budapest in April.

Osaka, a two-time Grand Slam champion, has endured a shaky start to the year after being knocked out by 15-year-old American sensation Coco Gauff last month in Melbourne, where she had lifted the trophy in 2019.

Since claiming her second consecutive major triumph, Osaka has dipped, failing to go past the fourth round in any of the four Grand Slams since.

The 22-year-old, who has dropped to number 10 in the world, surrendered the first set to Sorribes Tormo in a swift 27 minutes before putting up more of a fight in the second.

But after Osaka led 2-0, Sorribes Tormo came back and a break midway through proved decisive, with a clearly disappointed Osaka struggling to contain her emotions at the finish.

Sorribes Tormo’s second career singles win in Fed Cup gave Spain the perfect start, which was extended by Suarez Navarro’s comfortable victory over Doi.

Osaka will now have to beat Suarez Navarro in the reverse singles on Saturday to prevent Spain booking their place in the finals in Budapest.

 Serena out-duels Ostapenko 

The United States were well on their way to an appearance in the finals after victories for 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams and newly minted Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin.

Kenin got the ball rolling for the Americans in Everett, Washington, with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Anastasija Sevastova and Williams followed with a hard-fought 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/3) win over former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

“I was obviously a little nervous coming in after Australia,” said Kenin, who needed just 68 minutes to subdue Sevastova. “I felt tired, but I tried to get that out of my mind and just represent and do what I do best.”

Williams had a tougher time with Ostapenko, but benefitted from the Latvian’s two double faults in the first-set tiebreaker and another double fault to give Williams match point in the second-set decider.

Ostapenko also double-faulted to hand Williams a break for a 6-5 lead in the second set. The US veteran couldn’t close out the match however, dropping her own serve and the first two points of the ensuing tiebreaker before storming back with five straight points.

“I’m really proud of being able to get the win for the team,” said Williams, who took her perfect record in Fed Cup singles play to 14-0.

Elsewhere, world number five Belinda Bencic thrashed Gabriela Dabrowski 6-1, 6-2 to give Switzerland a commanding 2-0 advantage over Canada, Germany grabbed a 2-0 lead over Brazil and Slovakia took a 2-0 lead over Britain in Bratislava.

The ties between Belgium and Kazakhstan, Romania and Russia, and the Netherlands and Belarus, were all level at 1-1 after the opening day.

AFP

France Crush Australian Dreams To Win Fed Cup Final

France’s Caroline Garcia (R) talks with Kristina Mladenovic during the doubles match against Ashleigh Barty and Samantha Stosur of Australia in the Fed Cup final tennis competition between Australia and France in Perth on November 10, 2019. Tony Ashby / AFP

 

A jubilant Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia led France to its first Fed Cup title since 2003 on Sunday, winning a deciding doubles rubber to crush Australian dreams 3-2.

In the last tournament played under the current format, the pair kept their focus at Perth Arena to overcome Ashleigh Barty and Samantha Stosur 6-4, 6-3, denying the home team their first crown in 45 years.

It was France’s third title and first since they beat the United States 16 years ago, piling more misery on seven-time champions Australia who have now lost all nine of the last Fed Cup finals they have appeared in.

Mladenovic and Garcia, who won the 2016 French Open doubles title, bounced back from going an early break down in the first set to expose Stosur’s weaknesses, with the veteran out-of-sorts and making too many mistakes.

World number one Barty, stunned by Mladenovic in a singles rubber earlier Sunday, did her best to keep Australia in the hunt, but the French pair were clinical, racing to victory as their team-mates went wild.

“I’m the proudest man on the planet right now, I’m so proud of my girls and my team. They deserve it because they fought for a long time for this title,” ecstatic France captain Julien Benneteau said courtside.

“For sure I am going to have a lot of beers now.”

The final marked the last Fed Cup played under the current format, with an overhaul next year seeing 12 nations compete in a six-day event in Budapest.

That will mean an end to home ties and the atmosphere they bring, with the 26,951 fans turning up over two days in Perth the second-highest Fed Cup attendance on record after Roland Garros (30,000) in 2005.

The doubles clash was set up by Ajla Tomljanovic hauling the home team back into the tie by beating France’s Pauline Parmentier 6-4, 7-5.

She came on court after 40th-ranked Mladenovic upset Barty 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/1) in an epic.

Croatian-born Tomljanovic, in her Fed Cup debut for Australia, had been thrashed 6-1, 6-1 by Mladenovic in the opening singles rubber on Saturday.

But captain Alica Molik kept faith with her and she bounced back to beat Parmentier 6-4, 7-5.

“Really glad I got a second chance today and got the win and kept us in,” said the Australian. “The team has been unbelievable all week and it is such a privilege to play for you guys.”

Earlier Barty, who has been in scintillating form, whipping Garcia 6-0, 6-0 on Saturday after winning the WTA Finals in China last weekend, crashed in a classic.

“From my point of view I fought as hard as I could and I hope that I did my team proud and all Australians proud. I fought with everything I had left,” said Barty.

Barty started where she left off after the “double bagel” of Garcia on Saturday, breaking Mladenovic’s first service game with a net volley to extend her streak to 15 games this weekend.

But Mladenovic held serve to end the Barty run and it became a closer affair before the Australian began forcing errors to take the first set.

Barty saved five break points in the opening game of the second set, but Mladenovic finally worked a first crucial break with some quality passing shots, with a forehand long from Barty giving her a 5-4 lead.

She held her nerve to serve out the set.

Mladenovic, who beat Barty on clay in Rome earlier this year, was on a roll with the French star breaking then holding for a 3-1 third-set lead.

Stung, Barty rallied for 3-3 but the errors again crept in and the set ultimately went to a tense tie breaker where Mladenovic triumphed.

“I just kept believing because I felt I was out there fighting and giving her a hard battle. I’m just so proud how I kept pushing and obviously won the game,” said Mladenovic.

Siniakova Leads Czechs Past US To Fed Cup Title

Czech Katerina Siniakova returns the ball to US Sofia Kenin during the Fed Cup World Group final tennis match between Czech Republic and United States on November 11, 2018 in Prague.
Michal Cizek / AFP

 

Katerina Siniakova beat Sofia Kenin in a marathon three-set battle Sunday to lead the Czech Republic to a sixth Fed Cup title in eight years after defeating the United States in the final.

 

Siniakova, the world number 31, snuffed out two match points to beat the 19-year-old, 52nd-ranked Kenin 7-5, 5-7, 7-5 in three hours and 45 minutes to wrap up a 3-0 victory.

It is an 11th overall title for the Czechs, five of which came as former Czechoslovakia, a haul second only to the US and their record of 18.

“It was an incredible game for me, up and down, lots of nerves,” Siniakova said. “I’m just terribly happy I’ve won.”

“I was so nervous I can’t describe it and I’m really looking forward to some time off,” she added.

Groundstrokes and long rallies prevailed in Sunday’s rubber as both Siniakova and Kenin struggled with their serves, losing it more often than not in the first set.

But the 22-year-old Czech, who is the world number one for doubles alongside her teammate and compatriot Barbora Krejcikova, managed an extra break to take the set 7-5 as Kenin made 23 unforced errors.

The Russian-born American making her Fed Cup debut kept piling up errors early into the second set with Siniakova taking a 3-0 lead.

The American number one for the tie despite still seeking her maiden WTA singles title, Kenin regained composure in time to win the next four games before taking the set 7-5 as Siniakova visibly struggled with her nerves.

The Czech took another 3-0 lead in the third set and held on to the advantage in an interminable 19-minute game five.

But Kenin, who underwent treatment on her left thigh, came back and took a 5-4 lead before earning two match points.

“I felt terrible there. The worst,” said Siniakova.

“But you keep playing until the last match point is won.”

That is what happened — Siniakova took the game, earned a break and won the set 7-5.

On Saturday, Barbora Strycova, the world number 33, came from a set down against Kenin to win 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-4 in the Czech’s last Fed Cup rubber before retirement.

Siniakova then saw off 63rd-ranked Alison Riske 6-3, 7-6 (7/2).

The US, whose head-to-head record against the Czechs is now 10-3, were missing Sloane Stephens, Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Madison Keys.

The Czechs were without Karolina Pliskova and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, who missed the final with a bad cold.

 

AFP

Czechs 2-0 Up On U.S. In Fed Cup Final

Czechs 2-0 Up On U.S. In Fed Cup Final
Czech Barbora Strycova returns the ball to US Sofia Kenin during the Fed Cup World Group final tennis match between the Czech Republic and the United States on November 10, 2018, in Prague. Michal Cizek / AFP

 

Barbora Strycova overpowered Sofia Kenin and Katerina Siniakova beat Alison Riske to hand the Czech Republic a 2-0 lead over holders the United States in the Fed Cup final in Prague on Saturday.

Strycova, the world number 33, came from a set down to beat the 52nd-ranked, 19-year-old Kenin 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-4 in two hours and 43 minutes.

Siniakova, the world number 31, then saw off 63rd-ranked Riske 6-3, 7-6 (7/2).

The hosts are a win away from their sixth title in the last eight editions and their 11th overall, including five as the former Czechoslovakia. The United States have lifted the trophy a record 18 times.

The 32-year-old Strycova, who has announced her retirement from Fed Cup duty after the final, struggled with her serve throughout a nervous first set.

Strycova and Fed Cup debutant Kenin earned two breaks each, with the more aggressive US teenager taking the set in a tie-break.

But, propelled by the sold-out O2 Arena with 14,500 fans, the four-time Fed Cup winner regained composure in the second to sweep aside the Russian-born Kenin, who is still in search of her maiden WTA singles title.

Strycova took a 5-2 lead in the third and despite giving up two breaks, she took the set 6-4.

“For me it was a lot of emotions,” Strycova said on court after the win.

“I fought every ball and I’m so happy that I could win today in front of such a crowd. It means a lot to me.

“Every point is very important and I’m very happy I could do it today.”

Kenin admitted she was “a little bit overwhelmed” by her debut.

“I was pretty nervous but I was able to handle it,” she said.

“In the second set I got a lot of break opportunities but she just played too good so credit to her.”

Siniakova cruised through the first set of her encounter with Riske, forging ahead through a pair of breaks after indulging in groundstrokes and long rallies.

Riske went 3-1 up in the second set, but Siniakova levelled and took the set to a tie-break which she dominated to seal victory.

“I was just trying to focus on every point (in the tie-break),” said Siniakova.

“Actually, after the first point I was thinking, you know, you’ve played so many tie-breaks this year and you won almost all.”

“It couldn’t be better but it isn’t finished yet so we need to be ready for tomorrow.”

The US are missing Sloane Stephens, Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Madison Keys, while the Czechs are without Karolina Pliskova and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, who has ended up on the bench with a bad cold.

On Sunday, Siniakova is due to face Kenin and Strycova will then take on Riske.

Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova are then scheduled to face Danielle Collins and the Czech-born Nicole Melichar in the final doubles rubber.

But the teams may change and if Kvitova gets better, she might appear on the court.

“We need to discuss that. It will definitely be easier to put the team together when we’re 2-0 up,” said Czech captain Petr Pala.

AFP

Fed Cup To Undergo Reforms In 2019

FILE COPY President of the French Tennis Federation Bernard Giudicelli poses during a photo session in Paris. Photo Credit: JOEL SAGET / AFP

 

The Fed Cup is likely to face radical reforms for 2019, echoing controversial plans to expand the Davis Cup, it was revealed on Sunday.

“There will be reform of the Fed Cup next year,” said Bernard Giudicelli, the president of the French Tennis Federation on the sidelines of the semi-final between France and the United States.

“The reform is on the way and the project will probably be rubber-stamped at Roland Garros (May 27-June 10) and submitted to the International Tennis Federation General Assembly (in August),” added Giudicelli, who is also a member of the ITF board which runs both the Davis and Fed Cup tournaments.

Without elaborating on the plans, the FFT chief explained that “the purpose of the reform is to favour more teams in the World Group.”

At the moment, only eight countries play in the elite World Group.

Giudicelli, however, refused to confirm that the idea is to have 16 in the future and bring the women’s event in line with the current format of the Davis Cup men’s tournament.

“There will be more teams,” was all Giudicelli would add.

Plans to reform the 118-year-old Davis Cup, which would see the tournament played in one week in November on neutral ground instead of consuming four separate weekends, have split the sport.

The new-look event would also mean the end of home and away ties, be rebranded as a season-ending World Cup of Tennis Finals and feature 18 nations.

The Kosmos investment fund, founded by Spanish footballer Gerard Pique and which is planning to invest $3 billion over 25 years in the new-look Davis Cup, is also interested in the Fed Cup.

“Investors have shown interest in the Fed Cup. I think they have shown an interest in supporting the international federation and giving it the means to organise competitions that have a real impact,” added Giudicelli.

AFP

United States Defeat Belarus To Win 18th Fed Cup

US team celebrate with their trophy after winning the Fed Cup final tennis match between Belarus and the United States. MAXIM MALINOVSKY / AFP

The United States claimed their first Fed Cup title for 17 years as Shelby Rogers and CoCo Vandeweghe beat Belarus pair Aryna Sabalenka and Aliaksandra Sasnovich in a deciding doubles rubber in the final on Sunday.

Vandeweghe and Rogers won 6-3, 7-6 (7/3) to give the Americans a 3-2 final victory and an 18th Fed Cup crown.

“I’m just really thrilled for all four players,” said US captain Kathy Rinaldi.

“CoCo (Vandeweghe) came out and just played unbelievable. Shelby (Rogers) stepped up and Sloane (Stephens) — my heart was broken for her, but she battled this whole weekend, she battled all the way to the end. I’m so proud of all four of them.”

Earlier on Sunday, Vandeweghe put the USA 2-1 up by beating Sabalenka 7-6 (7/5), 6-1, while Sasnovich battled back from a set down to beat Sloane Stephens 4-6, 6-1, 8-6 to draw Belarus level at 2-2.

The 19-year-old Sabalenka and Sasnovich, 23, dropped a serve apiece in the first set and the Americans surged in front after just 26 minutes.

The Belarus duo replied positively and broke both Vandeweghe and Rogers in the second to move 5-2 ahead but the visitors then broke back twice to level at 5-5.

In a tense conclusion, the hosts broke Rogers again but the American pair would not buckle despite the intense atmosphere of a Minsk crowd desperate to see a first home Fed Cup triumph.

Sabalenka dropped serve again to send the set to the tiebreak where the experienced US duo triumphed.

In Sunday’s early match Sabalenka and Vandeweghe both played with confidence under the watchful gaze of Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko on the hard-court at the packed Minsk Chizhovka 8,000-seat arena.

The 25-year-old American took the opening set after 50 minutes winning it in a tiebreak.

In the second Sabalenka, who is 78th in the world, suddenly lost her nerve allowing Vandeweghe to break twice before she took the set and the match sealing her victory with an accurate backhand.

“I knew if I just kept giving myself opportunities and getting my nose in front in her service games, I’d keep getting opportunities and she’d eventually break down,” Vandeweghe said.

“She did what she’s supposed to do and did what I expected her to do – just swing and pray for it to go in and she did. So you just got to recover and keep fighting.

“And then it showed in the second set, she withered when I kept the pressure on her, and then I just closed it out.”

Later Sunday, US Open champion Stephens, 24, broke her rival’s serve early in the opening set to lead 1-0 after 42 minutes.

But in the second Sasnovich broke twice to level at one set all after one hour 10 minutes on court.

In the deciding set, Stephens led 5-2 before Sasnovich, 23, roared back with four straight games before eventually closing it out 8-6 as Stephens suffered her sixth straight defeat since winning her maiden Grand Slam title in New York in September.

“It was one of the most tense matches in my life,” Sasnovich said.

“I gave everything I have for the win, the god of tennis was on my side today. The support of the crowd helped me to stay concentrated throughout the game. It was a fantastic match.”

On the opening day Vandeweghe put USA into the lead with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Sasnovich, while Sabalenka beat Stephens 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 to pull the scores level at 1-1.

Belarus were without former world number one Victoria Azarenka who was forced to remain in the United States to fight a custody battle over her baby son.

AFP

ATP World Tour Finals: Djokovic Defeats Nishikori 6-1 6-1

ATPWorld number one, Novak Djokovic has stretched his winning streak to 15 straight victories at the ATP finals by beating Kei Nishikori 6-1, 6-1.

The top-ranked Serb has not lost at the season-ending tournament at the O2 Arena since 2011 and has won three straight titles since then.

The world number one needed just 65 minutes to see off the eighth seed Nishikori, and ended the afternoon with a trophy in his hands as he was confirmed as the 2015 world number one.

Before Sunday’s game, the ATP held a minute’s silence for the victims of the Paris attacks.

Elsewhere, Maria Sharapova came back from a set down to win her reverse singles match against Petra Kvitova to give Russia a 2-1 lead in the Fed Cup final in Prague.

In Sunday’s clash, the world number four, playing in her first Fed Cup final, defeated Kvitova 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the battle of the teams’ top singles players.

Kvitova, ranked number six in the world, broke the Russian in the first game and again in the ninth to take the set 6-3.

In the second set, Sharapova broke Kvitova to lead 3-2 before the Czech broke back in the next game to level at 3-3.

Sharapova broke again to lead 5-4 with a fine backhand pass and she closed out the set 6-4.