2017 FED CUP
HOW TEAM USA REACHED THE FINAL
Ashley Marshall | October 13, 2017
Team USA will play for its first Fed Cup title since 2000 – and its record-extending 18th overall – when it travels to Minsk, Belarus, in November.
First-year captain Kathy Rinaldi has successfully guided her team through a pair of home ties against Germany in Hawaii and the defending champions Czech Republic in Florida, but her first contest on the road is likely to be her toughest yet.
Rinaldi is expected to announce her team in the coming weeks, but she will be without former world No. 1 doubles player Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who injured her knee at Wimbledon earlier this summer and is still in the process of rehabilitating her leg ahead of the 2018 WTA season.
Top-ranked American Venus Williams is a possibility for Team USA even though she hasn’t played the past three ties, but US Open finalist Madison Keys might not be healthy in time after feeling pain in her left wrist – an injury which required multiple surgeries earlier this year.
World No. 15 Coco Vandeweghe could figure in Rinaldi’s plans, as may US Open champion Sloane Stephens, world No. 44 CiCi Bellis and world No. 55 Shelby Rogers. With six other Americans inside the Top 100 – Lauren Davis, Alison Riske, Varvara Lepchenko, Christina McHale, Jennifer Brady and Madison Brengle are the others – the captain should have no shortage of viable options for her four-player squad.
We’ll learn Team USA’s plan for Belarus soon enough, but first, here’s a look at how the U.S. returned to the final, with wins against Germany in Maui in February and against the Czech Republic in Tampa in April.
- For full coverage of the Fed Cup final, visit usta.com/fedcup, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube and watch on Tennis Channel. The final will be broadcast live on Saturday, Nov. 11, at 6:30 a.m. ET and Sunday, Nov. 12, at 6 a.m. ET.
Fed Cup World Group Quarterfinal: USA def. Germany, 4-0
Alison Riske def. Andrea Petkovic, 7-6, 6-2.
Riske got Team USA off to a perfect start on the opening day of play in Hawaii with a straight-sets win over Germany’s Petkovic, although it wasn’t without some early nervous moments.
Petkovic was serving for the first set at 5-4 after breaking Riske in consecutive games, but it was American who responded with a break of her own to force a tiebreak. The German had two set points in the breaker, first at 7-6 and then on her own serve at 10-9, but Riske claimed the final three points to win the opening stanza, 12-10, after 73 minutes of back-and-forth tennis.
If the first set was as tight as you can possibly get, the second was all one-way traffic. Riske raced out to an imposing 5-0 lead, and even though she briefly faltered when looking to serve out the match, she captured the very next game to secure a 7-6, 6-2 win.
The victory, Riske’s first on the Fed Cup stage, gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead and paved the way the bigger things to come.
Coco Vandeweghe def. Julia Goerges, 6-3, 3-1 ret.
Vandeweghe and Team USA took a 2-0 lead over Germany when Goerges was forced to retire in the middle of the second set of her singles match.
The American won the first set behind a pair of breaks, and she had consolidated an early break in the second when the German she appeared to injure her left knee while serving in the fifth game.
Heavy rain immediately after Goerges’ injury canceled play for the rest of the day, but the German was unable to continue when play resumed on Sunday.
Vandeweghe def. Petkovic, 3-6, 6-4, 6-0
Needing one win from the final three matches, U.S. captain Kathy Rinaldi looked to Vandeweghe to punch her side’s ticket to its first semifinal in seven years.
In a must-win for Germany, it was Petkovic who started quickly but ultimately Vandeweghe who finished on top to secure victory for Team USA, running off the final 10 games to rally from a set and a break down.
Petkovic won a scrappy first set that featured a combined five breaks in nine games, while Vandeweghe earned a split of an equally disjointed middle frame with three breaks of her own.
After 21 total break points over the first two sets, the match looked poised to go the distance in the third, too, but Vandeweghe wouldn’t let the opportunity slip through her fingers. Vandeweghe didn’t face a break point in the final set while breaking twice to creep out to a 5-0 advantage. Petkovic saved a pair of match points in the sixth game, but the third proved too much as Vandeweghe won the decisive point after two hours and 14 minutes.
Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Shelby Rogers def. Laura Siegemund and Carina Witthoeft, 4-1 ret.
With the outcome no longer in doubt, the fourth singles match between Riske and Goerges was not played. Instead, the action skipped right to a dead doubles rubber which, as it turned out, did not last long either.
The German duo retired while trailing 4-1 in the first set to give the U.S. its third consecutive Fed Cup sweep following a 4-0 victory over Poland in the 2016 World Group II first round and a similar 4-0 win in Australia in the World Group playoffs.
Fed Cup World Group Semifinal: USA def. Czech Republic, 3-2
Vandeweghe def. Marketa Vondrousova, 6-1, 6-4
A dominant performance from Team USA’s No. 1 proved too much for the Fed Cup teenage rookie to handle as Vandeweghe cruised to a straight-sets win in 84 minutes in the first match of Day 1.
Vandeweghe hit 16 winners and dropped just six points when she made her first serve in making light work of the 17-year-old.
Katerina Siniakova def. Rogers, 6-3, 6-3
The Czech’s top player earned the defending champions a split of Day 1 with a straight-sets victory over Rogers, who was making her Fed Cup singles debut.
Siniakova broke Rogers in each of her first three service games and established a 4-0 lead before the American broke twice in a row to narrow the advantage. Siniakova saved three break points trying to serve out the opener at 5-3 before grabbing the set on her second attempt.
Siniakova was more dominant on serve in the second set, never facing a break point. She claimed a decisive break at 2-2 and wrapped up the match with a second break, earned with Rogers serving to stay in the match at 3-5, for a share of the spoils on the first day of semifinals play.
Vandeweghe def. Siniakova, 6-4, 6-0
Team USA’s ace won her eighth consecutive point for the U.S. after winning the final nine games – and 10 of the last 11 – against Siniakova in a battle of each nation’s top player.
Vandeweghe broke at 4-4 in the first set in what proved to be the decisive moment of the early proceedings before increasing the pressure in the second set.
The American earned seven break points in Siniakova’s first two service games in the second set – converting two of them – and she broke for a third time in the fifth game to lead 5-0. In serving out the match at the first try, Vandeweghe left Rinaldi’s squad needing one win from Sunday’s final two matches.
Vondrousova def. Lauren Davis, 6-2, 7-5
The Czechs clawed their way back into the semifinal tie for the second time in as many days as rookie Vondrousova forced a winner-takes-all doubles match with a victory over Davis.
There were nerves on both sides and 11 combined breaks of serve as each player looked to earn her first Fed Cup singles win of their careers.
Vondrousova served out the opening set after breaking Davis three times in four games, and she broke four more times in the second set to offset a rocky serving performance of her own. Davis led the second set 5-3, but it was Vondrousova who rattled off the final four games, serving out the match to love to tie to overall contest at 2-2.
Mattek-Sands and Vandeweghe def. Siniakova and Krystina Pliskova, 6-2, 6-3
Doubles specialist Mattek-Sands came up big when it mattered the most again, partnering with Vandeweghe to punch their tickets to the first Fed Cup final for the U.S. since 2010.
Mattek-Sands and Vandeweghe raced out to a 3-0 lead in the opening set and built a 5-1 advantage behind breaks in the second and sixth games. In the second set, a break in the fourth game proved to be the pivotal moment, and Mattek-Sands served out the match with new balls set up a finals showdown in Belarus.
The win improved Mattek-Sands’ perfect Fed Cup doubles record to seven in a row and took Vandeweghe’s personal tally to nine consecutive Fed Cup victories (both singles and doubles). With the victory, Vandeweghe also became the first American to secure all three winning points in a single Fed Cup tie since Mary Joe Fernandez in 1996 and just the third overall, joining Fernandez and Lindsay Davenport in 1995.