STUTTGART, GERMANY: Andrea Petkovic and Julia Goerges both served well, played their best tennis at the decisive moments and fought off late charges from their opponents.
And the result was a commanding 2-0 lead for Germany over USA after the first day of play in the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group play-off tie on red clay at the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart.
Petkovic, the world No. 19 started things off for Germany with a 63 64 victory over 18-year-old Christina McHale who was playing in just her second career Fed Cup match but kept up a high level of play to challenge the German throughout the first set.
Goerges, the world No. 34, then fought back from a second set challenge from Melanie Oudin to win 62 76(5).
The turning point came in the first match came in the first set at 3-all on Petkovic’s serve, when McHale was able to fight back from 40-15 and earn three break point chances, but the German remained calm and picked up her level of play to fight them all off and close out the game for a 4-3 lead.
Petkovic grabbed the momentum at that point, winning the next seven games to close out the first set and take a commanding 4-0 lead in the second.
The young American never gave up and rallied to win three straight games of her own in the second but Petkovic steadied herself and served out the match, closing it out with a volley winner.
“In this game, I was tough, I was calm, I just kept fighting and I played well in the decisive moments,” Petkovic said of the game at 3-all. “Then she lost her focus a little bit and in the second set I felt like I was playing solid. I think Mary Joe told her to play more aggressively in the end so she played a couple of really good games but it was ok, I stayed solid and consistent and managed to serve it out.”
In the second match, Oudin took an early 2-1 lead in the first set but Goerges won the next five games to close out the set before the American battled back in the second.
Throughout the match, Goerges served at a high level, including winning 78 per cent of her first serves and hitting seven aces.
“When someone serves like that, there is not much you can do and it puts a lot of pressure on your serve, because you know they are serving that well consistently,” Oudin said. “I knew she would confident going into the tiebreak because she had served that well the entire match, hitting every corner and I couldn’t read it.”
The second set tiebreak did remain close; Goerges took leads at 3-1 and 4-3 but Oudin rallied to take a 5-4 lead after two Goerges errors. However, the German rebounded with a crosscourt winner and Oudin then hit a return wide for Goerges’ first match point opportunity, which she converted when an Oudin shot landed past the baseline.
“I was hitting pretty good and deep and putting pressure on her. I served pretty well today,” Goerges said. “(The first set) it was definitely easier than the second one because she pulled everything up and was fighting until the end.”
USA now needs three victories on Sunday with Oudin and Petkovic playing the opening match followed by McHale v Goerges and then the doubles match between Liezel Huber and Vania King for USA and Sabine Lisicki and Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany.
The winner of the tie keeps its place in World Group for 2012 with the loser being relegated to World Group II next year.
USA captain Mary Joe Fernandez knows a team has come back from a 0-2 deficit once before, in the quarterfinals in February, when Russia rallied to defeat France. She is hoping her team can make it time No. 2 this year. It has happened just four times since the World Group format was adopted in 1995.
“The message for tomorrow is try to be better than they were today, keep trying to work on doing the right things on the court and controlling what you can,” Fernandez said. “Russia was able to do it against France, so coming back from 0-2 has been done before. Melanie will start us off and try to get us on the board.”
And while holding such a large advantage, German captain Barbara Rittner knows her team cannot let up and hopes to close it out in one of the two singles matches with the USA having such a strong doubles team in Huber and King, the world No. 3 and No. 6 in doubles, respectively.
“Of course I am very happy, we are 2-0 up,” Rittner said. “We had two pretty close matches and I think both Christina and Melanie did well, they gave us a good challenge. (But) while we are up 2-0, we still need that third point.”
Watch the tie live on: FedCup.tv
Andrea Petkovic (GER) - 16/04/2011
Julia Goerges (GER) - 16/04/2011
Captain Barbara Rittner (GER) - 16/04/2011
Captain Mary Joe Fernandez (USA) - 16/04/2011