April 26, 2009

Talk About a Shocker

I feel terrible for ignoring the women all this week, but with the Fed Cup semifinals taking place over the weekend, there really wasn't a lot of action to speak of until Saturday.

But when they started, did they ever make up for an otherwise quiet week.

Defending champion Russia was the heavy favorite against the Italians. They claim five of the top ten rankings and have won four tournaments this year.

Unfortunately none of the titlists are playing on the country's Fed Cup team -- they could have used them. Instead of relying on Elena Dementieva or Vera Zvonareva, the Russians' hopes rested on Svetlana Kuznetsova and Nadia Petrova. And these stars proved to be no match for the likes of Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone.

While Kuznetsova did manage to win one of her singles matches, the Italians capitalized on their homecourt advantage and Schiavone rolled through her matches, clinching the victory and advancing her team to just their second-ever Fed Cup final.

There they'll face another upstart team. Even though the U.S. hold two of the top five ranking positions, neither Serena nor Venus Williams are playing on the team. With up-and-comer Bethanie Mattek-Sands leading the American charge against the Czech Republic, it wouldn't be a huge surprise if the U.S. went home early.

But teenager Alexa Glatch pulled together two upsets of Iveta Benesova and Petra Kvitova and Bethanie rebounded from her singles losses to seal a victory in her doubles match, sending her team to their first final since 2003.

That sets up quite an interesting final for November, and I'm not sure who the favorite will be. It'll definitely be an intense summer season as the girls gear up for the title match. It may be a challenge, but I'm rooting for my compatriots to win another title -- crazier things have happened!

Congrats to all!

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