U.S. pulls even with Slovenia in Fed CupBy NESHA STARCEVIC, Associated Press Writer
April 24, 2004
PORTOROZ, Slovenia (AP) -- Venus Williams
routed Katarina Srebotnik
6-1, 6-2 Saturday, allowing the United States to pull even with Slovenia after the first day of the Fed Cup.
Slovenia won the opening match in the best-of-five first-round series when Tina Pisnik
upset Lisa Raymond
7-5, 7-5 on a soggy court. Raymond was erratic on the red clay that was further slowed by a drizzle.
The clay became drier during the second match, and Williams hit powerful winners against an overmatched opponent who struggled with an injured thigh in the second set.
``I've been getting better all week in practice here,'' Williams said. ``I felt really good; I feel a lot more jolly.''
The United States has won the Fed Cup 17 times, more than any other nation in the tournament's 40-year history. Last year, the Americans lost the final to France 4-1. The most recent U.S. Fed Cup title came in 2000.
The U.S. team, with Zina Garrison debuting as captain, also features 47-year-old Martina Navratilova
and Laura Granville
. Serena Williams
is out with a knee injury.
``I expect us to go out and win every match, but it's going to be competitive,'' Garrison said. ``I'm glad we are 1-1 and not down two.''
In other first-round matches, it was: Russia 2, Australia 0; Austria-Slovakia, Argentina-Japan, Italy-Czech Republic, France-Germany, Spain-Switzerland and Belgium-Croatia.
Reverse singles and doubles are Sunday.
Williams, once ranked No. 1, ended a 14-month title drought by winning the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, S.C., last week.
On Saturday, she dropped only one point in running up a 4-0 lead. Srebotnik led 2-1 in the second set when she left the court for nearly 10 minutes and returned with her left thigh bandaged.
Srebotnik burst into tears after the match when asked about the pulled muscle.
``I can cope with it, but it's so disappointing that it happened at such an important time,'' she said.
Srebotnik, who is 0-3 against Williams, said she would have quit if it weren't the Fed Cup.
Williams double-faulted when play resumed but won the game and broke serve to lead 3-2. She broke again to lead 5-2 and finished the match by forcing a forehand error.
``The first set was really good, I didn't have many errors,'' Williams said. ``I felt very comfortable in my game.''
Srebotnik insisted she would play Sunday, but captain Mima Jausovec said the player will be examined before a decision is made.
``She has to be fit,'' Jausovec said. ``If she can move normally, she can beat Lisa and that's our chance. Venus is playing really well. You have to play great tennis to beat her, you have to hit winners.''
In the opening match, Pisnik changed the pace and often caught the American off guard with drop shots.
``She sliced very well and the court definitely favored her,'' Raymond said. ``The conditions were extremely heavy at the beginning and it just got worse.''
Pisnik, who at No. 32 is ranked three places below Raymond, raced ahead 3-0 in the first set. Raymond rallied to tie it 5-5 but then lost the set on her serve on Pisnik's drop shot.
Pisnik broke in the second set to go up 3-1. Raymond again tied it 5-5 but lost the match on her serve. A drop shot gave Pisnik her second match point, and the American netted a forehand to give Slovenia the early lead. ``The clay court worked to my advantage,'' Pisnik said. ``I'm a natural born fighter, and that's what I came out to do today.''
HaHa funny what the coach said.....