London, Apr 22, 2014: Twenty-two years after last reaching the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Final, Germany will contest the competition’s showpiece tie on 8-9 November after a convincing semifinal triumph over Australia in Brisbane.
The two-time champions, whose last foray to the final in 1992 ended in a 2-1 victory over Spain courtesy of Steffi Graf and Anke Huber, will play Czech Republic for the title after Petr Pala’s team defeated Italy in Ostrava without dropping a set in any of the first three rubbers.
The Czechs have now reached the final for a third time in four years, while the Germans were able to celebrate a new dawn after two wins for world No. 7 Angelique Kerber and another for Andrea Petkovic saw the visitors finally earn a place in the final that their strong squad undoubtedly merits.
“It’s a very special moment for me and the whole team,” said Kerber after defeating Samantha Stosur 46 60 64 in the decisive third rubber. “It feels very great. I played a good match but it was a tough one because Sam was playing also very tough and I have never beaten her before. It just means a lot; it’s a special moment for all of us.
“After the first set I was just thinking, just play every single point for your team, you’re playing for Germany, your country. Keep fighting and keep fighting till the last point. I really tried that and I’m just so happy.”
The Germans are sure to face a stern test in the final against Petr Pala’s Czech team, who defeated last year’s champions Italy 4-0 in emphatic fashion. Petra Kvitova won both of her singles rubbers, against Camila Giorgi and Roberta Vinci respectively, after Lucie Safarova had swept Sara Errani for the loss of just five games.
The Czechs didn’t drop a set in racking up an unassailable 3-0 lead, and compounded the misery for Italy when Andrea Hlavackova and Klara Koukalova defeated Giorgi and Karin Knapp 62 57 119 in the dead doubles rubber.
Czech captain Pala led his players to a dancing circle on the court before acknowledging the vocal home fans with a team bow. The victory, he said, earns his team the opportunity to relive great memories of their 2012 Fed Cup triumph over Serbia.
“It feels great, you never have enough [of moments like this], he said. “We have another home final and we still have memories from that final because it was a really great experience for all of us with a sold out crowd. We are really looking forward to it but now we want to enjoy this moment.”
Russia maintained its place in the World Group for 2015 after defeating Argentina 4-0 in Sochi, while Agnieszka Radwanska and Eugenie Bouchard helped Poland and Canada break new ground respectively after firing them into the elite eight-nation World Group for the first time.
Bouchard followed up Aleksandra Wozniak’s fine opening rubber singles win over Jana Cepelova, ranked 152 places above her, by winning both of her singles to see Canada past Slovak Republic in Quebec City.
Radwanska proved similarly pivotal in Barcelona, winning all three of the rubbers she played – including the decisive doubles rubber alongside Alicija Rosolska – as Poland edged five-time champions Spain 3-2.
The quality Radwanska showed throughout the tie was consistency, with her skills certainly noted by opposing Spanish captain Conchita Martinez, the 1994 Wimbledon champion.
“She can do pretty much everything that she wants to do,” said Martinez. “She can serve okay – pretty good – she can volley, she can drop shot, she can run, but what I like the most is that she’s one of the most consistent – or the most consistent player – on the tour. She always wins the matches that she has to. Can she win a grand slam? Why not.”
France returned to the World Group for the first time since 2011 after a fine shift from Caroline Garcia in St. Louis. The in-form Frenchwoman, who won her first WTA title at Bogota earlier this month, won both of her singles ties and the deciding doubles rubber alongside Viriginie Razzano to help France defeat USA 3-2.
Romania headlined the World Group II play-offs, booking its spot in World Group II for the first time in history after defeating Serbia 4-1 in Bucharest. Sorana Cirstea lead the line for the host nation, winning both of her singles rubbers including a thrilling 63 67(7) 63 decisive-rubber triumph over Bojana Jovanovski.
“I am overjoyed to have produced the winning point for Romania and it was even sweeter to bring some joy to our people on Easter Sunday,” said a delighted Cirstea.
Elsewhere Netherlands returned to World Group II for the first time siunce 1999 after defeating Japan 3-2 in ’s-Hertogenbosch, while Thailand missed out on the chance to end its lengthy wait for a return to the tier after falling to Sweden 4-0 in Lidkoping.
Switzerland denied Brazil any hope of a maiden spot in World Group II with a 4-1 victory in Catanduva, with Timea Bacsinzky scoring two singles wins and 17-year-old Belinda Bencic pulling up the all-important three points for the visitors after Teliana Pereira had threatened a comeback after defeating Bencic in the third rubber.
“I think we had just to stay calm from the beginning to the end,” said Bacsinszky of the key to the victory. “The Brazilian crowd likes to celebrate points like goals, we all know that. I told myself it was just a tennis match and it was important to enjoy playing in front of this crowd. It worked out.” —- Photo: SMP Images
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