Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Belarus makes 1st Fed Cup final

The Fed Cup finalists have been determined and Rafa Nadal has won 10 Monte Carlo titles.

First the Fed Cup semis.

As it stood after Day One, the Czech Republic and the USA were tied at 1-1.  After the next two singles rubbers, it was 2-2.  Coco Vandeweghe won her second match, this time thrashing Katerina Siniakova 6-4 6-0, while 17 year old Marketa Vondrousova forced the tie into the fifth match by beating Lauren Davis in straight sets.

However, the world's top ranked doubles player, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, combined with Vandeweghe to defeat Kristyna Pliskova and Siniakova in the deciding doubles match and put the USA into the final for the first time since 2010. 

Their opponents will be Belarus who surprised everyone with its win over Switzerland in the semi final.  Also tied at 1-1 after Day One, Belarus won both singles matches the next day to put the tie out of reach of the visitors.

The big scalp was Timea Bacsinszky, easily the highest ranked singles player in the tie.  Aliaksandra Sasnovich ignored rankings and stunned Bacsinszky with a 6-2 opening set.  The second set went to a tie break but again Sasnovich had the answers and took the match in two sets.

Aryna Sabalenka clinched the semi final after a two hour three set battle with Viktorija Golubic and Belrus had qualified for its first ever Fed Cup final, fighting this entire campaign without the services of its champion Vika Azarenka.

There are reports that Vika may be a possibility of playing in the final, now that some time has passed since giving birth.  The attitude of the team, though, is that it has achieved with the available resources and it has confidence in them to continue doing the job.

Rafa Nadal carved his way through the Monte Carlo draw and made the final.  No great surprise there except his semi final opponent, which was expected to be Novak Djokovic, but became David Goffin.
To everyone's shock though, his last hurdle to capturing a 10th title here was not Murray or Wawrinka or indeed any top ten player.  It was fellow Spaniard and 15th seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who had made his first Masters 1000 final, along the way eliminating Murray, Cilic and Pouille, all ranked ahead of him.

Nadal was a bridge too far.  6-1 6-3 and the fourth seed created more history on the red clay, sounding a rather large warning to the ATP Tour.  A tenth Roland Garros title is looming.

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