STUTTGART, GERMANY: Behind the strength of its rising stars, Andrea Petkovic and Julia Goerges, the German team secured a spot in the World Group for 2012, while USA was left making the kind of history it did not want.
Germany confirmed its status among the competition’s elite with a 5-0 victory at the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group play-off tie in Stuttgart, but the result left USA facing relegation for the first time in the nation’s history.
Petkovic was the weekend hero for Germany, winning both of her singles matches, including the tie-clinching victory on Sunday over Melanie Oudin 62 63. She played consistently well and aggressive both days to improve her overall Fed Cup record to 7-3.
“It means so much to me. I never won a clinching match so far in Fed Cup,” Petkovic said. “I was really happy and relieved because I really feel Germany belongs in the World Group and I was so happy to be the one who made the final point.”
Both Petkovic and Oudin came out aggressive in the first of Sunday’s reverse singles rubbers, but it was the German who took control of the match, breaking Oudin twice in the opening set and dictating the points.
Petkovic won nine straight games to set up a match-winning lead before Oudin climbed back to within 4-3 in the second set, just as her teammate Christina McHale had done the day before. But that was as close as the American would get, as Petkovic closed out the tie with a break of serve from a return winner.
In the opening match on Saturday, Petkovic held off 18-year-old McHale, the world No. 82, who kept up with her opponent’s high level of play for most of the match, but Petkovic was able to remain calm and raise her game at the important moments for a 63 64 win.
“It was strange, the game of Melanie is totally different from Christina’s but how the match went was quite similar,” Petkovic said. “I was on the run for seven, eight or nine games, I was playing well, I felt the ball well (against Oudin). But with Melanie, sometimes it is quite dangerous when you feel the ball too well because you have to mix it up with her.”
Sandwiched between Petkovic’s triumphs, world No. 34 Goerges secured a commanding 2-0 lead for Germany at the end of day one, after holding off a second set comeback from Oudin to win 62 76(5).
Sabine Lisicki won the fourth singles rubber over McHale 63 64 and Goerges teamed up with Anna-Lena Groenefeld to complete the shut-out for Germany with a 36 63 61 win over Liezel Huber and Vania King, who are both ranked in the world's top 10 doubles players.
Germany now has the opportunity to compete for the Fed Cup title in 2012, which excites captain Barbara Rittner. “Hopefully all the players stay healthy and then I am really looking forward to the next season,” she said.
USA will have to triumph in the World Group II first round next February and then win a further World Group play-off tie to regain its place in Fed Cup’s top level of competition.
“We want to win every time we play. It doesn’t matter if it is World Group I, II or III,” American captain Mary Joe Fernandez said of the team’s approach for next year.
“We go out there, we win together, we lose together, but we give it our all. Hopefully we will get a home tie, which will be nice. It is back to trying our best and hopefully getting back into the World Group.”