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17 April 2011

Germany regains World Group status


MATCH REPORT

By 

  • Erin Bruehl

Photo: Paul ZimmerGerman team

STUTTGART, GERMANY: For Andrea Petkovic, it was her first tie-clinching victory in a Fed Cup match and this was a great time for it, as the win secured Germany a place in the prestigious World Group for 2012.

Petkovic, the world No. 19, defeated USA’s Melanie Oudin 62 63 in the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group play-off tie at the Porsche Arena, giving Germany an insurmountable 3-0 lead over the Americans and a spot in next year’s World Group.

In dead rubbers, Sabine Lisicki, a substitute for Goerges, defeated Christina McHale 63 64 and Goerges and Anna-Lena Groenefeld teamed up to beat Liezel Huber and Vania King 36 63 61, making the final score 5-0 in favour of Germany.

Petkovic was thrilled to be the one to win the tie and put Germany back where she feels it belongs. Petkovic and Goerges, the world No. 34, are two of Germany’s talented young players who have been steadily climbing the world rankings.

“I never won a clinching match and it means a lot to me,” Petkovic, 23, said. “Especially with all that has happened in the last weeks, I think the expectations were rising after the good results I had the last couple of months.

“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.”

With the loss, USA moves down to World Group II in 2012, marking the first time since that the most successful nation in Fed Cup history has played outside the top tier.

Petkovic and Goerges had defeated McHale and Oudin, respectively, on Saturday to give Germany a commanding 2-0 lead heading into the final day of play.

In the third singles match, both Petkovic and Oudin came out aggressively but it was Petkovic who struck first. At 2-2, Oudin was up 40-15 on her serve but four consecutive errors gave the game and lead to Petkovic. She struck again two games later to go 5-2 ahead when Oudin double faulted.

From there, Petkovic really began dictating the points and taking control of the match, including winning nine straight games from the first set through a 4-0 lead in the second.

Like her teammate McHale the day before, Oudin fought back from the 4-0 deficit to pull to 4-3, but Petkovic remained focused and held to lead 5-3 before breaking Oudin in the next game with a return winner for the victory.

“I think I was playing really well, I was playing clever,” Petkovic said. “At 4-3, I came to the bench and (captain) Barbara (Rittner) said ‘Relax, you are still serving at 4-3, everything is fine.’ And I just relaxed and I went for it then on the big points like yesterday.”

Oudin credited Petkovic for her great play and acknowledged she was just the better player on the day. And she tried not to think about what a loss would mean for the Americans.

“I definitely started off well and after I lost my serve at 2-2, it was like she took her game to another level and she got really confident and she started going for bigger serves,” she said.

“Today she got more confident and she could go for even more and more, and then stepped in and controlled the points. She was playing well and she has been playing well, so she has a lot of confidence and it is really hard to beat people like that.

“I try not think about it but I knew if I lost this match then our team loses and we go down to World Group II. So that was a little bit of weight on my shoulders knowing that,” she added.

For American Fed Cup captain Mary Joe Fernandez, her young team played well and hard in each match, but came up a little short and she credited the German side for being the better and stronger team over the two days.

“They played extremely well and with a lot of confidence,” she said of the German team. “We are obviously disappointed; we go into every tie with high expectations even when we are the underdogs. There were not that many opportunities for us looking back. It was a tough battle.”

“We are going to continue to work hard, get stronger and better and just keep building,” she added. “This team has improved every single year and they are going to continue to improve.”

The German team now looks ahead to try and win the Fed Cup title next year and captain Barbara Rittner only sees good things for her team in the future, especially if everyone stays fit.

“I am very, very proud and of course pleased with the results,” she said. “Of course we had a great weekend; I saw four really great singles and an unbelievable doubles match in the end. Hopefully all our players stay healthy and then I am really looking forward to the next season.”

Captain Barbara Rittner (GER) - 17/04/2011

Julia Goerges (GER) - 17/04/2011

Captain Mary Joe Fernandez (USA) - 17/04/2011

Andrea Petkovic (GER) - 17/04/2011

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