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plantman
Feb 5th, 2008, 03:51 PM
By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LA JOLLA, California, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Ashley Harkleroad led the United States into the Fed Cup world group semi-finals by winning her two singles matches on debut against Germany but could be dropped for the next round.

The U.S. meet champions Russia in the last four, almost certainly on a slow clay surface in Moscow, and accept they have to field their strongest team to have any chance of progressing.

If available, their best singles players would come from the Williams sisters, Serena and Venus, and former world number one Lindsay Davenport.

"It all depends who we get to field," Davenport told reporters after winning her last two rubbers on Monday in the first-round tie against Germany.

"If we can field our strongest team, we have a great shot (against Russia). If not, it's going to be tricky because it's going to be, I'm sure, on a slow red clay court which is obviously not the Americans' best surface.

"We are fired up. We're going to try and talk either Venus or Serena into coming."

Neither of the Williams sisters was available for the La Jolla tie, although Venus did consider playing in it.

WAITING TIME

"Venus had me wait probably till a week up until (the team was announced)," U.S. Fed Cup captain Zina Garrison said. "She was going back and forth. She basically said she played five weeks straight and couldn't do it. Look for her in April."

Seventeen-times champions, the U.S. will be bidding for their first Fed Cup title since 2000 when they face Russia on April 26-27.

The Americans lost to the Russians 3-2 in last year's final on a hardcourt surface in Vermont.

"I'm tired of Russia," Garrison smiled. "I want the ones (players) who are here right now just to enjoy the fact that we have the opportunity to go to Russia."

Harkleroad, who sealed victory for the U.S. by beating German teenager Sabine Lisicki 6-4 7-5, said she would not be disappointed if overlooked.

"It just means that I would be able to continue to play tournaments and work on my own ranking, continue to play and continue to move up," added the 22-year-old, who crushed Tatjana Malek 6-1 6-3 in Saturday's opening singles.

"So I wouldn't be disappointed. They (Russia) are a tough team. But I definitely would be all for it if they asked me to go to Moscow, for sure." (Editing by Ed Osmond)

I'm happy to see she's keeping her option open!:)

Natash.
Feb 5th, 2008, 03:54 PM
Ashley. :hug: I realize that we have a better chance of winning if we were to have Venus and Serena but Ashley played so well. She was the Fed Cup hero in the tie against Germany.

I'm glad to see she's understanding though.

Wannabeknowitall
Feb 5th, 2008, 04:00 PM
Honestly if I was the FED CUP Captain, and the way Lindsay played, she might be the weakest link on clay.
Her movement was hideous and she has to be on point to be of any use on that surface especially with a crowd that is going to be against her.

In her case I would wait to see how she plays at Amelia Island before saying yes to her.

I can see Harkelroad beating Chakvetadze, Vesnina, maybe even Petrova on clay.

I don't think Lindsay has the patience right now to beat Anna, Dementieva, Kuzzie, etc.

jonny84
Feb 5th, 2008, 04:22 PM
Its a bit of a kick in the teeth for Ashley. :hug:

Davenport hates clay, so dont see why she would play to be honest.

AcesHigh
Feb 5th, 2008, 04:30 PM
Davenport should definitely play if Serena doesn't. We don't have any better options. The best team on the Russian side would be Sharapova and Kuznetsova. Maria is almost the equivalent of Lindsay on slow clay so it's not like they have too much of an advantage. IMO, the tie would be in the hands of Venus(as usual) and the doubles team.

HTE
Feb 5th, 2008, 04:37 PM
If Zina actually picks Lindsay over Ashley it would be even poorer judgement than I would ever have expected.

SvetaPleaseWin.
Feb 5th, 2008, 04:39 PM
Davenport on clay is a bad idea-Maria may have poor movement but she'll still show Dav up
obv Harkleroad is unlucky to beat any of the top russians on clay but neither is Davenport so :shrug:

~Eclipsed~
Feb 5th, 2008, 04:49 PM
I'm not surprised and i'm happy Ashley isn't bitter about it either.

I agree with other posters who say Davenport shouldn't be considered to an extent. I would say let Lindsay play because this could be her last year to play Fed Cup, but if you're looking at it from a strategic point of view, Ashley would be the smarter choice.

Natash.
Feb 5th, 2008, 04:49 PM
If they do let Ashley stay in Fed Cup for the tie against Russia, it would be a good idea. I don't expect her to beat Sharapova on clay but she CAN beat Chakvetadze, Safina, or Vesnina on clay to get it the doubles rubber.

cheo23
Feb 5th, 2008, 04:50 PM
And to think That RUssians are good on CLAY????? Hello???? Maria??? Anna????? Safina?????? Get it Tgoether!!!!!! The only Good Clay players on the team are Elena and Kuznetsova!!!!!!!!!

In The Zone
Feb 5th, 2008, 06:41 PM
Venus, Raymond, Davenport, Harkleroad.

No sense in Serena even trying. Rest the body. She has better things to worry about. Like keeping her mouth healthy. :weirdo:

Give one match to Lindsay, one to Ashley. Both to Venus. Lindsay/Lisa doubles. USA wins 3-2.

The Russians aren't much better on clay.

-VSR-
Feb 5th, 2008, 09:13 PM
Serena most likely won't go so Ashley may have a chance. I think she's earned a spot as well. :yeah:

Willam
Feb 5th, 2008, 09:24 PM
Ashley :hug:

Henpova
Feb 5th, 2008, 09:27 PM
Ok I know that the Russians are not much better on clay but they have enough player to make a strong clay team. I don't think they will have Maria or Anna play. Since the are best on hard, grass courts. I would think the would have Kussy Petova, and maybe Elana. Those girls are great on clay, and there is not one player that is great on clay in the US team.

I know Ree and Vee both made it to the finals of RG in 02 but the clay was slow and wet. So they where able to over power the other players but when the clay is dry. They have to have great foot work and since this will more then likely be indoors, the clay will be dry.

I don't have much hope for the US in the next tie.

As far as Ashley, she may still play, and we need our best foot first. So if she dose well at the start of the clay season. She should play.

new-york
Feb 5th, 2008, 09:32 PM
had Ashely lost her matches this week i'm sure we would be way less to support her nomination for the tie against Russia.
it's not like it's tommorow.

Lindsay playing horrendous lately is definitely a sign that locking her spot wouldn't be too wise, especially on clay.

but i trust her abilities more than Ashley's and if she get in any kind of decent form even on clay, she has to be given the edge.

i'd say wait & see.
maybe we won't even have to think about it with usa toppies not showing up.

nice reaction, Ashley, God knows she helped the team this past week.

Direwolf
Feb 6th, 2008, 12:52 AM
i think that this tie should be played on...

half clay-half grass surface..!!!
its exhibition after all...

woohoo!!!
after Venus and Serena makes it 3-0...
i dont care who gets to play the other rubber
as long as Vee/Ree plays the doubles...

Lindsayfan32
Feb 6th, 2008, 01:48 AM
Honestly if I was the FED CUP Captain, and the way Lindsay played, she might be the weakest link on clay.
Her movement was hideous and she has to be on point to be of any use on that surface especially with a crowd that is going to be against her.

In her case I would wait to see how she plays at Amelia Island before saying yes to her.

I can see Harkelroad beating Chakvetadze, Vesnina, maybe even Petrova on clay.

I don't think Lindsay has the patience right now to beat Anna, Dementieva, Kuzzie, etc.

I don't disagree with you Wannabeknowitall but I would have Lindsay in the team to play doubles with Lisa but I agree Lindsay is a weak link on clay for singles and if Maria plays that another reason not to play her in singles as her record against is not good. But to not play Lindsay in doubles could be shooting yourself in the foot. This is the last chance of the Williams sisters have to qualify for the Olympics so I think they will both play.

If one of the sisters doesn't play. Ashley should get the nod. Some posters have said Lindsay should be dropped altogether. It was only one bad match and also Lindsay has already said she will be on the team as long as they are alive in the world group which Zina has taken her up on and she should be on the team to play Russia for the doubles only.

LudwigDvorak
Feb 6th, 2008, 03:02 AM
Ashley's having a kind of renaissance in her career right now. She's ranked #76 without her third round Australian points from last year, with a semifinal in Hobart, second round in Auckland (should have been quarterfinal :o ), winning two 50ks and a 75k in the last three months of '07.

She played lamers in the first Fed Cup tie, yeah, but Lisicki still beat Lindsay and Malek...well...some people actually think she's good. :tape: But my point is Ashley should at least be invited to be part of the USA team in Russia, root her teammates on. She was the hero this weekend and deserves that at least.

She's a good clay court player. Her best results have come on clay and the best choice for USA if the sisters don't show up and it's just Lindsay.

I hope Ashley's results keep up like this. :yeah:

Josh.
Feb 6th, 2008, 03:59 AM
ash :hug:

so humble.

AcesHigh
Feb 6th, 2008, 04:23 AM
I know Lindsay isn't amazing on clay and she doesn't like it(hasn't played a clay tourney since 2005), but c'mon.. even then, she won Amelia Island and I think lost to Henin at Charleston.

Meanwhile, Harkleroad hasn't beat a top 30 player since AO 2007.

To me, it's a no-brainer. Risk playing Davenport. At least she's won titles, beat top players and even not at her best on her worst surface, is the better shot.