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USA Blast France In Fed Cup

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USA Blast France In Fed Cup

img_3202_bmExcept for the 2003 final in which France prevailed, the U.S. have owned France in Federation Cup competition. Their twelfth meeting occurred in Lievin, France on clay. The Americans dominated in the first round by winning three successive rubbers to clinch a semifinal spot.

On Saturday, in the first rubber after Bethanie Mattek-Sands jumped to a 2-0 lead, France’s Alize Cornet rolled off five straight games to build a 5-2 edge.  After Mattek-Sands crawled out of a triple break point hole and got to 3-5, she altered her tactics by coming more to the net.  It paid off.   Mattek-Sands broke Cornet as she served for the set.  But, following Mattek-Sands breaking for 6-5, she surrendered the lead at love sending the set to a tiebreaker.  A seesaw tiebreaker was ultimately captured by Mattek-Sands.

In the second set, after Cornet broke in the first game, with a sleuth of errors, she allowed Mattek-Sands to level the set. Then, after neither woman relinquished serve, at 5-6, the errors got the better of Cornet. This resulted in Mattek-Sands carrying the initial rubber 7-6,7-5.  Cornet’s record now stands at 0-6 in Fed Cup play.

The second match featured Melanie Oudin against Pauline Parmentier.  Oudin drew first blood in taking a 3-2 lead.  Subsequent to Oudin easily consolidating, Parmentier had 0-30 on Oudin’s serve on various occasions, however, each time the American halted the Frenchwoman.  Oudin took the first set 6-4.

In the second set, Oudin finally capitalized on a couple break point opportunities and went ahead 2-1.  Yet, on double break point, Oudin double faulted squaring the set at 2 all. After netting a forehand, Oudin faced triple break point.  Still, the teenager delivered to arrive at 3 all.  Then, with Parmentier serving at 4 all and 40-0, Oudin applied pressure on the second serve and got to deuce.  Subsequently, with a forehand return winner, Oudin had a second break point.  Oudin converted when Parmentier misfired on a backhand crosscourt.  Afterwards, Oudin kept her composure despite a tough game and closed out the match 6-4,6-4.

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Venus’ Star Shines Bright At The Year End Championship

As the top eight women players gathered in Doha for the Sony Ericsson Championships, Venus Williams and Russian Vera Zvonareva were undoubtedly considered dark horses after being the last ones to qualify. This unlikely twosome reached the finals in dominant fashion with neither woman dropping a match in round robin play. Thus, today, someone would soil her perfect record. Zvonareva drew the short straw as she fell to Williams 7-6, 0-6, 2-6.

Plagued by injuries the last few years, Williams has forfeited the year-end event multiple times. As such, this was Venus’ first final. After an uneventful opening game, Zvonareva got her first break point opportunity when Williams double faulted. The Russian converted when Williams misfired on a forehand 2-0. With penetrating groundstrokes, Williams forced errors from Zvonareva and with a forehand down the line pass had a break point. But, Williams wasted that chance by making a backhand error. Venus earned another break point, but was turned away by a forehand crosscourt winner from Zvonareva. After five deuces, Zvonareva held for a 3-0 advantage. Subsequently, with excellent serving, Venus remained one break behind. The turning point arrived with Zvonareva serving for the set at 5-3. After Vera was ahead 40-0, Venus connected on a crosscourt forehand winner, mirrored it with a backhand, then Zvonareva overcooked a volley leading to deuce. After a marathon rally, Venus dug out a ball to make a superb backhand volley for break point which Williams later converted. The set concluded in a tiebreak. After a backhand down the line winner gave Venus a double mini-break lead at 4-1, she squandered it with two unforced errors. Subsequently, with a double fault, Venus handed Vera a set point. Zvonareva capitalized on it when a net court dropped in for a winner. The Russian appeared poised to claim the biggest title of her career.

After winning a tough opening game, Williams made a crisp volley for a winner in a game where Zvonareva led 40-30 to take a 2-0 advantage. After easily holding serve, an error filled game by Vera extended Venus’ lead to 4-0. Venus faced a break point in the fifth game after committing several unforced errors. But, Williams forced an error from Zvonareva to get out of trouble and widen her lead to 5-0. Hence, Williams broke the Russian again to take the second set a love.

After Venus held serve to open the final set, Vera produced two costly unforced errors to go down double break point. Williams’ forehand stayed solid allowing her to break for 2-0. However, Williams faced break points after backhand misses. When Venus netted a Zvonareva dropshot, the players were back on serve. In the next game, the Russian gambled once again on the dropshot and lost when Williams smashed an overhead lob for another break point. Venus converted for a 3-1 lead. Unable to bottle her frustration, Zvonareva abused her racket and exploded in tears. In the sixth game, Vera picked up the pieces and held serve for the first in the set. As Zvonareva served at 2-5, Williams stepped on the accelerator. When a forehand skidded off the line causing an unforced error from Zvonareva, Williams arrived at championship point. Shortly after, Williams put away a volley to claim the trophy.

World number one and defending champions Cara Black and Liezel Huber crushed Rennae Stubbs and Kveta Peschke 6-1, 7-5 in the doubles finals culminating a year where they won nine other titles including the U.S. Open.

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Jankovic Pelts Petrova In Germany To Ascent Back To Number One

At the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix final, a tier II contest, Serbian Jelena Jankovic clashed with Russian Nadia Petrova currently ranked 18 but formerly as high as number 3. Jankovic’s steadiness from the backcourt unnerved Petrova who ultimately fell 6-4, 6-3.

Jankovic began the match by breaking when Petrova missed a backhand volley. Then, the Serb fought off a couple of break points by getting the Russian to make some unforced errors for a 2-0 lead. With her big serve, Petrova kept the first serve within reach. But her primary nemesis continued to be the unforced errors; this cost Petrova a break point in the fourth game. On the other hand, Jankovic whose weakest stroke is undisputedly the serve, delivered a couple of aces to stretch her advantage to 4-2 and connected on another to lock away the first set.

Nadia started the second set behind the curve by missing a swinging volley and a backhand shot to give Jelena the early break. Petrova attempted to get back by stringing together a couple of winners for love-30, eventually getting a break point. Yet again, with successive unforced errors, Nadia lost the game. After a strong service game at 2-3, with an outright service return winner, Petrova got another break point which she converted when Jankovic at last made an unforced error. However, Nadia’s elation was brief; a miscue on the forehand and a backhand down the line winner by her opponent gave Jelena double break point. Subsequently, Jankovic kept herself in a long rally with a splendid defensive shot resulting in the error from Petrova. Thus, Jankovic was back on top 4-3. Serving at 3-5 to prolong the match, Petrova faced triple match point after she misstruck a forehand volley, made a crosscourt forehand error and Jankovic produced another backhand down the line winner. Then, Petrova netted a forehand to allow Jankovic to claim the set.

For Jankovic, Christmas came early. By Serena Williams losing in the second round to China’s Na Li, Jankovic reclaimed the number one ranking which she had held for just a week a few months ago despite not having a major trophy to her name. Another perk was that Jelena had her choice of a red Porsche convertible versus a $100,000 paycheck.

Turning to the doubles final, wildcard entrant and nascent team of German Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Swiss Patty Schynder defeated top seed Australian Rennae Stubbs and Czech Kveta Peschke 6-2, 6-4.

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