Fed Cup St. Louis: Day Two

FRANCE DEFEATS USA 3-2 (In the deciding doubles rubber)

After Alize Conet’s tough loss to Madison Keys on Saturday, French Captain Amelie Mauresmo substituted veteran Virginie Razzano to play Sloane Stephens in Sunday’s first single rubber. Since her first Fed Cup Tie in 2001, Razzano actually had a remarkable 10-4 singles record before today’s match. Cornet has played for her country since 2008, and despite her elevated play as of late, now has an abysmal overall singles record of 3-11.

Day-2. R3: Sloane Stephens def. Virginie Razzano (USA up 2-1)

First set: Nothing more than a backboard for Razzano, Sloane broke early to go up 2-1, then broke Razzano again at 3-1. Down 1-4, after a back-and-forth deuce battle, Virginie earned her first break…but immediately fumbled her third consecutive service game. Sloane earned set-1 in 36-minutes (6-2).

Second set: A repeat of the first, Razzano won game-one, but quickly fell behind after dropping her next service game. Down 1-3, this time she held…and held again…and again; but the damage was done. Stephens won her first Fed Cup singles match in nearly five years of playing with the team: (6-2, 6-4).

Day-2. R4: Caroline Garcia def. Madison Keys (2-all)

Caroline Garcia. Hero in her first Tie for Team France.
Caroline Garcia. Hero in her first Tie for Team France.
First set: Madison came out fired-up and broke Garcia in the first game, but it was a short-lived advantage. After the first sit-down, Garcia broke back to even the match at 2-all…and the ladies’ stayed on-serve through 5-4, Garcia. Talk about a timely break, Caroline quickly jumped out to triple set-point and easily ran away with the set: (6-4).

Second set: Madison held her first two service games, but dropped the third to fall behind 2-4. Up 5-3 two games later, Garcia wouldn’t be denied, finishing-off Saturday’s hero on-serve. Garcia’s clutch, 68-minute (6-4, 6-3) win kept France in the Playoff Tie…all of this in her first Fed Cup appearance for Team France.

On to the deciding doubles rubber…

…where Team USA gets relegated to World Group II…again.

Day-2. R5: Virginie Razzano/Caroline Garcia def. Madison Keys/Sloane Stephens

Virginie Razzano. Winner in the deciding doubles.
Virginie Razzano. Winner in the deciding doubles.

Originally, Lauren Davis and Christina McHale were scheduled to play for the United States. Claire Feuerstein and Virginie Razzano were scheduled to play for France. No surprise – the line-ups changed when doubles became the deciding rubber; both Mauresmo and Fernandez looking to give their team an edge.

First set: On serve after the first sit-down, the French quickly opened it up by breaking Sloane, then Madison in their next two service games. Sloane managed a hold down 1-5, but Razzano was able to claim the set in the very next game: (6-2).

Second set: Time to panic. In the opening game, Garcia and Razzano jumped out to an early lead with a break on Keys…then broke Sloane in game-3. From there, it was all over but the crying, with France up a set and 3-0 on Team USA…or was it? Down 0-4, Madison and Sloane ripped-off four games in-a-row ┬áto get back on serve…and the momentum shifted…or did it? After a serious deuce-duel at 5-all, Sloane lost her serve and France would go to win the St. Louis World Group Playoff (6-3, 7-5 ), returning to the Fed Cup World Group for the first time since 2010.

After a four-year absence, the French will finally be back in contention for the Fed Cup title in 2015. Team USA will be relegated to World Group II for the second-time in 3-years. In 2012, the US Fed Cup Team started the year in Worcester, MA against Belarus, then defeated Ukraine in the World Group Playoff to rejoin the World Group for 2013. Both Ties…featured Serena Williams.

In other Fed Cup play around the world….

FED CUP WORLD GROUP SEMIFINALS:

  • In the Czech Republic, Czech Republic defeated Italy 4-0 / Czechs are looking for their 3rd Fed Cup title in 4-years
  • In Australia, Germany defeated Australia 3-1 / Germany has advanced to its first Final since 1992

** So this November, the 2014 Fed Cup Final will feature Germany and the Czech Republic – in Czech Republic.

FED CUP WORLD GROUP PLAYOFFS:

  • In Russia, Russia defeated Argentina 4-0 / Russia remains in World Group for 2015
  • In Canada, Canada defeated the Slovak Republic 3-1 / Canada advances to the World Group for the first time since 1994
  • In Spain, Poland defeated Spain 3-2 / Poland advances to World Group for the first time since 1994

FED CUP WORLD GROUP II PLAYOFFS

  • In Romania, Romania defeated Serbia 4-1
  • In the Netherlands, the Netherlands defeated Japan 3-2
  • In Sweden, Sweden defeated Thailand 4-0
  • In Brazil, Switzerland defeated Brazil 4-1

** Romania, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland will play in World Group II in 2015