Wow! What a victory for Team U.S.A.!
And what a coming out party for the 19-year-old Alexa Glatch, who is ranked 114 in the world and needed to beat two players ranked within the top 50 to keep her team alive in this weekend’s Fed Cup semifinal against the Czech Republic. Glatch’s fourth rubber win was especially impressive, considering the pressure. Czech Captain Petr Pala had pulled the dejected Iveta Benesova from the third rubber, subbing a resurgent Lucie Safarova to play against Bethanie Mattek-Sands. His maneuver worked: Lucie scored a rousing straight-sets win for her home crowd and took a 2-1 lead over the Americans. But Glatch found a way to reverse the momentum.
Down to a live fifth rubber, Liezel Huber and Mattek-Sands had to scrape against Iveta Benesova and Kveta Peschke, fighting back from a set and match point down on Mattek-Sands’ serve. It was fitting that Huber, with her obvious team spirit, would help score the winning point of the tie in such dramatic fashion. And Mattek-Sands found redemption after her two earlier losses.
Mary Joe Fernandez is a fantastic Team Captain. She got a true team effort from a fairly inexperienced squad, with every member contributing to the outcome. She’ll need to outdo herself in the final, where the equally big-hearted Italian team will enjoy the home court advantage.
Yes, the Italians pulled off another terrific upset in their semifinal against the Russian squad, which was missing Dinara Safina and Vera Zvonareva but still had a deep bench with Svetlana Kuznetsova, Nadia Petrova and Anna Chakvetadze. Schiavone was the hero of the tie – like Glatch she won both of her singles rubbers against higher ranked players. I didn’t see the matches so I won’t comment further, but I suggest you read the Fed Cup website’s report on Schiavone’s key fourth rubber win over Pavlyuchenkova. It’s full of lines like this: “The Italian reached in her bag for a new shirt, her coach Gabriele Urpi reached for a quiet cigar.” (Click here)
In World Group Playoff results, Serbia beat Spain, Germany beat China, and the Ukrain whalloped Argentina. At “press” time France and the Slovak Republic are tied, 2-2.
Click here to read more on this weekend’s Fed Cup action.