Archive for the 'Liezel Huber' Category


USA’s young ‘guns’ are hoping that the indoor hard court venue will be enough to give them a victory.

Italy will be hoping for a repeat result of the last year’s Final when it travels to San Diego in November as the defending Fed Cup by BNP Paribas champion. USA and Italy are meeting for the second successive year to decide the  destination of the trophy, and the visitors will draw strength from the 4-0 victory on clay in Reggio Calabria in 2009.

That was Italy’s only ever win against the Americans, with the head-to-head score now standing at 9-1. USA has home advantage this time and has selected to host the tie on an indoor hard court. History may lean towards the Americans, but recent form makes the Italians favourite. USA has battled past France and Russia in this year’s campaign, while Italy has lost just one rubber on its way to victories over Ukraine and Czech Republic. Similar to last year, both nations have experienced contrasting routes to the Final. USA has been forced to dig deep, while Italy has cruised through with the loss of just a single rubber.

USA’s first round tie against France was actually a routine affair, as Melanie Oudin and Bethanie Mattek-Sands doubled up to give the away team an unassailable 3-0 lead in Lievin. Mattek-Sands and doubles specialist Liezel Huber successfully teamed up in the fifth rubber to leave the scoreline 4-1 in favour of the visitors. The French team was a far cry from the one that lifted the trophy in 2003, but it was still a positive performance from an American side that possessed a healthy mix of youth and experience.

The reward for USA was a home tie in the semifinals against old foe Russia. The Russians had won the last three meetings between the two powerful Fed Cup nations, but revenge was around the corner for Fernandez’s team. Such is the strength in depth at the disposal of Shamil Tarpischev, Russia’s captain, he consistently has the luxury of naming his team from a pool of over a dozen Top 100 players.

Once again playing as the team’s No. 1 player in the absence of the Williams sisters, Oudin got the home side off to the perfect start. “You know what, it was a big adrenaline rush,” said Mattek-Sands, who became only the third American player ever to win successive live matches to seal victory on the final day. “I’m normally not really emotional on the court, but just playing in Fed Cup, different pressures. I was really pumped, though. I always want to win whether I’m playing singles, doubles, charades, whatever. I think we’re all pretty competitive. So I was ready to go.”


Liezel Huber blasts the Williams sisters for not playing for their home country!

American doubles specialist Liezel Huber, who has repeatedly called on Venus and Serena Williams to play Fed Cup, was critical of the sisters’ decision not to play this weekend’s tie against Russia.

“We want this trophy and we want them to play,”  Huber said yesterday in Birmingham. “But if they don’t play, it’s very tough for me to be supportive of their decision. Come Olympics time and they want to play, they have to understand the people that are going to be loyal, I would hope, are going to go ahead of them. Because we are loyal. We want to bring the Cup home.”

The young American team has a realistic chance of winning against the usually powerful Russians. With the exception of Elena Dementieva, their team is also young and inexperienced, and Dementieva is a little rusty and can be very irratic.

If by some miracle the US does win it will be interesting to see if Mary Joe Fernandez continues to court the Williams sisters for the final tie with the defending champion Italian team, or whether she will have the guts and leadership to field the team that got the US into the final.


The US hopes are riding on Alexa Glatch.

glatchAlexa Glatch holds the key to the success of the USA Fed Cup team when they meet tomorrow on the red clay in Italy. She has proved that she is a big game player, and relishes the pressure of playing against the top players. But more importantly she has shown that she is quite at home on clay. At just over 6′ tall she towers over her two diminutive team mates Oudin and King, and in her play she can serve with the best on the tour. 

She made her Fed Cup debut in April in the semifinals against the Czech Republic. As a rookie, she was dubbed the MVP for almost single handidly keeping the US alive by pulling off upset wins in both of her singles matches against No. 29 Iveta Benesova and No. 48 Petra Kvitova in dominating, straight sets fashion. Her team won the deciding doubles match and the U.S. will have a chance to take home the Fed Cup Championship Trophy for the first time since 2000.

In May, Alexa made her French Open red clay debut by crushing the 14th-seeded Italian clay court specialist Flavia Pennetta 6-1, 6-1 in the first round. To date this is the biggest win in her career.

Italy’s No. 2 player, Francesca Schiavone, will face U.S. Open quarterfinalist Melanie Oudin in the second singles match Saturday on the clay courts at the Rocco Polimeni club.

Schiavone and the 18-year-old Oudin have also met once before, with Schiavone winning 6-1, 6-1 in Indian Wells, Calif., last year.

Saturday 7 November – 11:00 start (10:00 GMT)

Flavia Pennetta (ITA) v Alexa Glatch (USA)

Francesca Schiavone (ITA) v Melanie Oudin (USA)

Sunday 8 November – 11:00 start (10:00 GMT)

Flavia Pennetta (ITA) v Melanie Oudin (USA)

Francesca Schiavone (ITA) v Alexa Glatch (USA)

Sara Errani/Roberta Vinci (ITA) v Liezel Huber/Vania King (USA)


USA’s 2009 Fed Cup team.

oudin 2glatch 3king 4huber

Melanie Oudin

Oudin burst onto the world scene at the US Open in September when she reached the quarterfinals, losing to Caroline Wozniacki. However, the 18-year-old had caught the eye of most tennis followers long before.

Oudin enjoyed a successful junior career and began to play her first senior tournaments in 2006. With three $50k victories under her belt, she came through qualifying to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon before making her run to the last eight at Flushing Meadows.

In Fed Cup play, Oudin made her debut against Argentina in this year’s first round. Having lost her opening rubber, she fought back to defeat Betina Jozami in three sets, providing USA with the platform to progress in the decisive doubles match. She was also a non-playing member of the team in the semifinals.

Alexa Glatch

Glatch played her first Fed Cup tie in the semifinals against Czech Republic and made more than an impressive debut. She comfortably defeated Iveta Benesova and Petra Kvitova in her two singles rubbers, dropping just six games.

The 20 year-old from California is currently ranked No. 132 in the world and is USA’s No. 10. She reached her career high ranking of No. 102 in August.

As an individual, Glatch hasn’t enjoyed the best form of late. In fact, she hasn’t reached the second round of a tournament since June at the AEGON Classic in Edgbaston, part of the British grass court season.

Vania King

King was called in to the American team following the withdrawal of Serena Williams, who was competing at the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha.

The 20-year-old made her debut against Germany in 2006 and has played in five ties, compiling a win-loss record of 4-5. She is currently ranked No. 78 in the world and has won one career singles title.

King, however, has enjoyed more success on the doubles court. She has seven tournament victories to her name, including wins in Brisbane and New York in 2009, and also finished runner-up in the mixed doubles at this year’s Roland Garros.

Liezel Huber

Huber, a doubles specialist, is the top ranked doubles player in the world. Teaming up with various partners down the years, but with Cara Black of late, she has won 39 career titles including four at Grand Slam events.

Huber began her Fed Cup career representing South Africa in 1998. However, in 2007, she became an American citizen and has now played in USA’s last three ties.

Mary Joe Fernandez, USA’s captain, has described Huber as ‘unquestionably our team leader’. In this year’s Fed Cup campaign, she has won the decisive doubles rubber in both rounds.

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