FED CUP DELRAY BEACH – DAY TWO
Serena Williams def. Sofia Arvidsson 6-2, 6-1
Having all kinds of trouble with both the wind and sun while serving on the north end of the court, both Serena Williams and Sofia Arvidsson managed to hold serve through the first three games. After the first sit down, Serena came out firing returns on Arvidsson’s blinded first serves, and delivered the match’s first break. A quick service game later, she found herself quickly up 4-1. With another break on her preferred end of the court, Serena won the set 6-2.
It was all business for Serena in the second set, winning the first five games, then taking the set 6-1.
Venus Williams def. Johanna Larsson 6-3, 7-5
Mary Jo Fernandez then substituted Venus Williams to play Johanna Larsson in the 4th rubber. Johanna won the toss, chose to receive, and broke Venus to open the match. Not to be outdone, Venus shot back with a break of her own to get back on serve. Breaking Johanna again after the first sit down, it didn’t take long for Venus to go up 4-1. She would go on to take the set 6-3.
At 2-all in the second set, Johanna Larsson saved triple break point to come back and win the game at deuce, and stay on serve. At 3-all, it was a different story. With a Venus break, Williams would then hold serve to go up 5-3, and serve for the set at 5-4.
But hold everything!
Johanna Larsson played clutch tennis to break-back, leveling the set at 5-all. But Larsson couldn’t maintain the momentum. Venus broke her again, then served for the match, eventually clinching the Tie for Team USA with a 7-5 win in the final set. Johanna didn’t go quietly, showing true grit, battling through nine deuces and recovering seven match points, before Venus prevailed on the eighth try.
Team Sweden won the final dead rubber by walkover, as the U.S. failed to field a doubles team, claiming medical issues with three of their four players.
FINAL: USA 3, Sweden 1. The United States remains in the Fed Cup World Group for 2014, while Sweden returns to World Group II.
Opinion: While Venus Williams was obviously struggling with back issues during the entire match, she looked strong during extended rallies, showing solid footwork and superior power on returns of serve, immediately picking-up the pace of each point. Though struggling with her first serve, she more than makes up for it with aggressive play and confident shot placement during the point. Honestly, this is the most determined and focused play I’ve seen from Venus since she retired from the 2011 US Open, after being diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome. A timely, meaningful clutch win that has to be another confidence boost in her extended comeback.
2013 FED CUP WORLD GROUP FINAL IS SET: In this year’s Fed Cup World Group – Italy defeated defending champion Czech Republic (3-1) and Russia came back to defeat Slovak Republic, after being down 0-2 starting the final day of play. So the Fed Cup Final will feature Italy and Russia, November 2nd and 3rd.
NOLE BEATS RAFA: In Monte Carlo, Rafael Nadal’s 46-match win streak finally came to an end, thanks to Novak Djokovic. After eight consecutive titles in Monaco, at the conclusion of the match, Novak made sure to thank Rafa for finally letting him win one. With the 6-2, 7-6(1) win, Novak Djokovic has now won every Masters Series event on the ATP schedule, with the exception of Cincinnati in the US Open Series.
SCHEDULE: This week, the guys are in Barcelona (500) and Bucharest (250), while the ladies are in Morocco and Stuttgart (Premier).