creo en la diosa ♥ Sveta ♥
Join Date: May 2001
Re: Sveta in Fed Cup
Kuznetsova and Chakvetadze the new Russian stars
When Russia began its 2007 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas campaign in April of this year, Anna Chakvetadze was a promising up-and-comer who spent most of the one-sided first round tie against Spain on the bench, waiting for her chance to pitch in and help Nadia Petrova and Svetlana Kuznetsova. As Russia returns to Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium for this year’s Fed Cup by BNP Paribas final against Italy, Chakvetadze is now a key member of the team.
The 20-year-old Muscovite was originally a highly promising pianist, but at 12 her mother took her to a tennis club and her life changed direction. She was an outstanding junior but not surprisingly has taken time to find her feet on the WTA Tour. However, a stellar spell on the American hard-courts has culminated in a run to the US Open semifinals – and a marquee match against her good friend Kuznetsova – and left Chakvetadze knocking on the door of the world’s top five.
Chakvetadze and Kuznetsova became close after getting to know each other on Fed Cup duty, and their friendship has help build team spirit within the all-star Russian line-up. “I’m such a friendly person and I’m in good relations with everyone. I mean, we are seeing each other every week and we practise together,” said Chakvetadze, who also featured in Russia’s thrilling 3-2 semi-final victory over the USA in Stowe in July, when she beat Vania King in the opening match before losing to Venus Williams.
Chakvetadze and Kuznetsova will be assisted in the final by Petrova and Elena Vesnina, who regularly partners Chakvetadze in doubles. They will also have a high class practice partner in World No.2 Maria Sharapova, whose injury problems will not allow her to play but who will attend the final at the invitation of team captain Shamil Tarpischev. “I was pleasantly surprised to receive a phone call from our captain asking me if I would like to play in the finals,” Sharapova told her personal website. “Unfortunately he called me the day I was visiting a doctor in Toronto.” Sharapova has been told not to put any pressure on her shoulder, where she is still experiencing some pain after a series of nagging problems this season. “The bad news is that I can’t play the finals without a serve, smash or a swinging volley,” she explained.” The least I could do is fly over there and be their practice partner for the week and cheer them on from the stands. Get those horns ready!”
Chakvetadze is working with Sharapova’s former coach Robert Landsorp and credits the California-based mentor – who has also worked with Tracy Austin, Lindsay Davenport and Pete Sampras among others – with helping her improve in recent months. “I’m working physically and mentally definitely, and I think I improve this year a lot compared to last year,” she said. “He helps me a lot. He gives me confidence, you know, and he’s a great guy. I just take some little things what he teaches, you know, because I will never play like Maria. I will never have powerful shots like Maria because I’m just smaller and thinner. I don’t have as much power to hit, so I have to play smart. And because I’m shorter I'm moving better, so I have to use that.”
Kuznetsova, too, feels that she has improved and travels to Moscow as the US Open runner-up, all of which could spell bad news for Italy, the competition’s defending champions. “I know I’ve grown as a person and as a player, I can see it in the matches,” said Kuznetsova. “It really motivates me a lot to do what I’m doing, and I really enjoy playing tennis.”
Italy, the competition’s defending champions, can also field a strong, experienced team for the final, made up the quartet of players who took Italy to victory in Charleroi last September.
Francesca Schiavone will spearhead the team, with Flavia Pennetta, Mara Santangelo and doubles specialist Roberta Vinci alongside her, and last year’s winning captain Corrado Barazzutti once more leading the team from the sidelines.
The 45th Fed Cup final marks the first time the two teams have met at such a late stage in the competition but they have met on three previous occasions, with Russia winning all three.