DELRAY BEACH, FL, USA: For the first time in her Fed Cup career, Venus Williams clinched a Fed Cup tie for the United States.
“To be honest, I wanted to be out there,” Venus Williams said. “I told Mary Joe (Fernandez, the US captain) yesterday I feel good, I feel positive. I pumped myself up and I wanted to be there for the team.”
Neverthless, clinching this weekend’s Fed Cup World Group play-off tie for the United States against Sweden didn’t come easy for Venus Williams. She watched seven match points go by in the final game before a service winner ended the match on her eighth match point, allowing her to turn back the 66th-ranked Johanna Larsson 63 75.
“I wasn’t keeping track (of the match points),” Venus Williams said. “I was just trying to stay focused on getting the win for the US.”
The second singles was supposed to be the domain of Sloane Stephens for USA, but US captain Mary Joe Fernandez decided to go with experience over youth. Stephens had come up short in straight sets against Sofia Arvidsson in Saturday’s first rubber of the tie.
“At the end of the day, experience just goes a long way,” Fernandez said. “Venus has been there so many times before. To have her in that clinching match for me was really important.”
The win improved Venus Williams’ Fed Cup record to 15-2 in singles, and 19-4 overall.
Earlier in the day, Serena Williams improved her Fed Cup singles record to 10-0 with a confident 62, 61 win over Sofia Arvidsson in the first match on Sunday.
The meaningless doubles rubber was forfeited by the Americans, who had three of the four players dealing with injuries. That ended the playoff tie with the US securing a 3-2 win as Sweden was awarded the doubles point.
Sweden’s captain Lars-Anders Wahlgren felt the weekend offered his players a lot of insight into what the best players in the game bring to a match.
“I think it was definitely great experience for our girls, and they took a lot knowledge out of this weekend definitely,” Wahlgren said.
Venus Williams was hardly in perfect form, but experience was the key to get her through the one hour, 34-minute match. She posted 11 double faults - seven in the second set and two in the final game. She also was the player to take more of the chances, which landed her 30 winners to 11 for Larsson, and 49 unforced errors to 42.
In contrast, Serena Williams was at the top of her game. Armed with 35 winners and 10 aces, Serena needed all of 57 minutes to move Team USA ahead 2-1 in the tie.
Serena Williams now has a perfect 10-0 and 13-0 overall.
Serena came under pressure once in the match on her serve in the third game of the first set. The pressure, however, did not come from Arvidsson. It came from serving on the south end of the court and staring straight up into the sun when serving.
That was the only game that Williams faced break points - three, to be exact - but escaped unscathed.
“Games like that are really important,” Williams said. “If she had won that game, would have been a tougher score, a different match. It was important for me to stay focused and win that game and fight for every point. Yeah, that one was tough, but I was just going for everything.”
For Arvidsson, having an opportunity to play the top player in the world, came with it’s merit, if not a victory. She at least had the win over Sloane Stephens on Saturday to give her a 1-1 in singles this tie.
“Of course, I’m very happy with my win yesterday, Arvidsson said. “Today was also fun to play, even though I lost.”
Captain Mary Joe Fernandez (USA) - 21/04/2013
Venus WIlliams (USA) - 21/04/2013
Serena Williams (USA) - 21/04/2013