Williams And Vandeweghe Ensure US Lead
The Federation Cup is in full swing and Venus Williams has ensured that defending champion he United States is off to a sterling start. Seven-time Grand Slam winner Williams made beating Arantxa Rus (Netherlands) 6-1, 6-4, look like a stroll in the park. The match marked the 1,000th match of 37-year old Williams’ professional career. A modest Williams said after the match that she wasn’t aware of the milestone at the time of the match, and that for her, it was purely about playing a game that she loved.
27-year old Rus later conceded that she had let her nerves get the upper hand and that playing against a player like Williams was intimidating at best. For Williams, it was very much a recovery after having had a slow start to the year. Williams lost to Belinda Bencic (Switzerland) in the opening match of this year’s Australian Open, but feels confident that the year has only just begun and that there is plenty of time yet to make a come-back and turn the tables.
CoCo Vandeweghe lost her first set to Richel Hogenkamp and it seemed to be touch and go for a while right at the start. She however fought back valiantly to a 4-6, 7-6, 6-3 victory, further extending the lead that was secured by Williams.
Czech Republic Secures 2-0 Lead Over Switzerland
The Czech Republic were treated to a 2-0 lead over Switzerland by Petra Kvitova and Barbora Strycova during the first round of the Federation Cup. Kvitova beat Viktorija Golubic 6-2, 1-6, 6-3, after having overcome a nail-biting second-set jolt. Strycova further increased the advantage when she beat Belinda Bencic 6-2, 6-4.
Kvitova seemed relieved at the outcome of the game against Golubic, saying that it was up and down all the time, especially during the second set, and that she had struggled mentally as well as physically throughout most of the match. In the end, Kvitova hit 32 winners compared to Golubic’s 14.
It had been an emotional start to the day for Kvitova following the death of fellow All England Club champion Jana Novotna. Novotna (49) died last November after a long and tiresome battle with cancer. In an emotional gesture, the Czech players honoured Novotna’s memory by remaining silent for a while before commencing their matches.
Meanwhile, Elise Mertens, who made it all the way through to the semi-finals at last month’s Australian Open, secured a one point lead over France for Belgium when she beat Pauline Parmentier, 6-2, 6-1. France’s Kristina Mladenovic however evened the score-board when she retaliated by beating Kirsten Flipkens 6-2, 6-4.
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