Round: World Group quarterfinals
Date: 10-11 July 2004
Venue: Club Nazareth, Jerez de la Frontera, Spain
In the history of Fed Cup by BNP Paribas, there have only been four ties when the fighting spirit and tenacity of teams staring defeat in the face at 2-0 down were so high that it resulted in unforgettable comebacks.
The Spanish city of Jerez de la Frontera witnessed one of these epic moments in 2004. Belgium arrived in Spain without its two stars Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, but captain Ivo van Aken had a couple of surprising and dangerous aces up his sleeve.
A young, energetic Kirsten Flipkens, who had never won any of her three previous matches in the competition, and the experienced Els Callens, who had been part of the team for ten years, managed to put the Iberians against the ropes on day one.
A day full of surprises on both benches
Flipkens shocked the crowd by taking the first set of the opening rubber against Anabel Medina Garrigues after a tiebreak. The Spaniard recovered and took the second set, but the Belgian came back in the third and won the match 76(5) 16 62.
Before the Spanish team could recover from this initial upset, Callens and Virginia Ruano were on court to play the starring role in another act of high drama. The Madrid native dealt successfully with the first set, only to see the Belgian take the second and leave everything undecided. The third was worthy of a Greek tragedy and Callens was the only survivor, winning 26 64 119.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Flipkens. “Nobody expected us to be 2-0 up after the first day without Justine and Kim!” However, the Belgian captain was more cautious. “To lead 2-0 does not guarantee anything,” warned van Aken.
Yes we can!
There are speeches that have unexpectedly changed the course of history, and on that Saturday night Spanish captain Miguel Margets must have produced one of those because the events that took place the following day left the crowd astonished.
Medina Garrigues stepped onto court for the first of the reverse singles with all the responsibility on her shoulders, and with her opponent, Callens, knowing that just one point would put her team through to the semifinals. The enraged backhand of the Spaniard neutralised that of her rival and the third point ended on the home side after a 64 60 victory that saw the crowd regain the faith in their players.
Margets chose Maria Sanchez Lorenzo for the fourth rubber in what would prove to be one of the most important matches of her career. Flipkens was very competitive but the Spaniard showed an outstanding level that eventually led her to a 63 64 win, bringing the tie back to the starting point.
The decisive fifth rubber started with a rested Ruano coupled with an extra motivated Medina Garrigues. On the Belgian side, Flipkens and Callens were once again aiming to secure the desired winning point.
The visiting team played at a very high level but the locals, helped by the support of an enthusiastic crowd, achieved a 62 62 victory that gave them the long-wanted ticket to the semifinals.
Medina Garrigues was filled with joy at the end. “I’ve played well for me and for the team,” she said. “We all have played wanting to make every Spanish fan part of our victory.”
“The first day I felt dispirited because we had chances of winning both matches, what happened today has been incredible,” stated a proud Margets.