FED CUP Press Release, March 16, 2019
The ITF has announced the ten nominees for the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Heart Award in recognition of performances in the first round of the competition in February. Voting is now open on FedCup.com and FedCup.com/es and will close on Friday 22 March.
Four winners from the following groups will be announced on Monday 25 March: World Group/World Group II, Asia/Oceania Group I, Americas Group I and Europe/Africa Group I.
Now in its 10th year, the Fed Cup Heart Award aims to recognise players who have represented their country with distinction, shown exceptional courage on court and demonstrated outstanding commitment to the team during the Fed Cup. Each winner will receive a cheque to be donated to the charity of their choice.
World Group/World Group II
World No. 12 Ashleigh Barty was the star of the show as Australia reached the World Group semifinals for the first time since 2014 after defeating last year’s runners-up USA in Asheville. Barty won all three of her matches, the first of which was a 6-1 7-6(2) victory over Sofia Kenin as seven-time champions Australia made the perfect start. The 22-year-old then restored Australia’s lead courtesy of a 6-4 6-1 triumph over Madison Keys, a two-time Grand Slam semifinalist in 2018, in the third rubber. With the tie all square at 2-2, 2018 US Open doubles champion Barty teamed up with Priscilla Hon to overcome Danielle Collins and Nicole Melichar 6-4 7-5 in the decisive doubles rubber.
Big-serving Georgina Garcia-Perez refused to accept defeat and hauled Spain over the finishing line as they moved a step closer to a World Group return with victory over Japan in Kita-kyushu. Garcia-Perez, who had a hand in all three points as Spain twice came from behind, survived match point and a tense tiebreak to beat Misaki Doi 6-4 4-6 7-6(2) with the visitors staring down the barrel of a 2-0 deficit. The 26-year-old then held her nerve to overcome Nao Hibino 6-3 1-6 6-1 in the fourth rubber and, following 30 minutes recuperation, joined forces with Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez to outmanoeuvre Miyu Katu and Makoto Ninomiya 6-1 6-3 in the decisive doubles match.
Simona Halep proved an inspiration for Romania as they caused a major Fed Cup shock by defeating defending champions Czech Republic on their home soil of Ostrava. The 27-year-old ruthlessly dispatched Katerina Siniakova – a Czech heroine from the 2018 final – 6-4 6-0 in the second singles rubber of the World Group showdown, before overcoming fellow former world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova 6-4 5-7 6-4 in the third. The tie turned into a titanic battle which went to a decisive fifth rubber, with a jubilant Halep more than making her mark as Romania reached the semifinals for the first time in the World Group format.
World No. 11 Anastasija Sevastova dropped just nine games across two days, outclassing her opponents as Latvia dismantled Slovakia 4-0 in Riga and reached the World Group play-offs for the first time in their history. The 28-year-old overpowered Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-4 6-0 in the second singles rubber and then fired Latvia into an unassailable 3-0 lead in the tie – their 100th Fed Cup clash and first on home soil – by outclassing Rebecca Sramkova 6-3 6-2.
Carolina Meligeni Rodrigues Alves
Brazil’s Carolina Meligeni Rodrigues Alves was in sparkling form as the South Americans booked their place in the World Group II play-offs following a faultless week on the clay of Medellin, Colombia. Alves had never previously contested a Fed Cup singles rubber, but won all three matches she played in the round-robin stage – against Chile’s Fernanda Brito, Puerto Rico’s Lauren Anzalotta Kynoch and Argentina’s Catalina Pella – and dropped just one set in the process. The 22-year-old repeated the feat against Paraguay’s Montserrat Gonzalez in the promotional play-off final, winning 6-3 6-2 to ensure Brazil made the ideal start to the tie.
Maria Camila Osorio Serrano
Double Youth Olympic Games medallist Maria Camila Osorio Serrano won seven of the eight rubbers she contested as Colombia retained their Americas Group I status by navigating a relegation play-off on the home soil of Medellin. At the crunch moment, the 17-year-old joined forces with Maria Fernanda Herazo Gonzalez to beat Puerto Rico’s Lauren Anzalotta Kynoch and Monica Puig 6-1 6-3 in the doubles and guide Colombia to victory. She had earlier defeated Anzalotta Kynoch in the opening singles rubber. She may have lost her first doubles clash of the week alongside Maria Paulina Perez-Garcia and against Mexico’s Giuliana Olmos and Renata Zarazua – her only defeat – but Osorio Serrano winning the opening singles rubber and concluding matters with a doubles triumph was a recurring theme.
Having narrowly missed out on a place in the World Group II play-offs 12 months earlier, Kazakhstan went one better in 2019 and key to their success in Astana was Zarina Diyas. The 25-year-old, who now has sole ownership of first place on the all-time list for Fed Cup singles wins by a Kazakhstan player, won the opening rubber in all three of her nation’s ties to stoke their promotion bid. Diyas overcame Thailand’s Mananchaya Sawangkaew 6-1 6-3, India’s Karman Kaur Thandi 6-3 6-2 and China P.R.’s Zheng Saisai 6-3 6-2 in the Asia/Oceania I promotional play-off final.
China P.R. may have lost out to Kazakhstan in the Asia/Oceania I promotional play-off in Astana but Zhang Shuai made her presence felt with three singles victories and one doubles success. World No. 40 Zhang began her outstanding week by dispatching Abigail Tere-Apisah 6-1 6-2 in the second singles rubber against Pacific Oceania. The 30-year-old followed that with an all-action display against Korea, Rep., defeating Han Na-Lae 6-0 6-4 in the second singles rubber and joining forces with Yang Zhaoxuan to dispatch Han and Kim Na Ri 6-3 7-5 in the decisive doubles rubber. The only set Zhang dropped all week was against Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva in the promotional play-off final, although she still prevailed 6-3 3-6 6-4 to haul China P.R. level in the tie.
Two-time Grand Slam semifinalist Johanna Konta showed tremendous resolve in winning all four of the rubbers she contested as Great Britain reached the World Group II play-offs following a drama-filled week in Bath. With Great Britain 1-0 up in the promotional play-off final against Serbia, Konta collapsed on her way to the changing room between the second and third set of her singles rubber, but returned and regained her composure following treatment to defeat Aleksandra Krunic 7-6(1) 3-6 6-2 and deliver the final point. Earlier in the week, Konta had overcome Slovenia’s Dalila Jakupovic 7-6(7) 6-2, Maria Sakkari of Greece 4-6 6-2 6-3 and Hungary’s Anna Bondar 6-2 6-7(1) 7-6(4) to fuel Great Britain’s ambitions of promotion.
World No. 112 Natalia Vikhlyantseva belied her status as the lowest-ranked player in Russia’s Fed Cup team to stoke her nation’s promotion bid in Zielona Gora, Poland. Preferred to Top 20 player Daria Kasatkina in Russia’s opening clash against Poland, Vikhlyantseva, 22, was a picture of calm as she dispatched Iga Swiatek 6-0 6-2. Vikhlyantseva was in no mood to take a backward step in Russia’s second outing against Denmark and duly overcame Junior Australian Open winner Clara Tauson 7-6(3) 6-1. With Russia competing in Europe/Africa I for the first time since 1997, they secured a place in the World Group II play-offs courtesy of a 2-0 win over Sweden, during which Vikhlyantseva played a leading role, overpowering world No. 69 Johanna Larsson 7-6(1) 6-2.