The ITF has announced the first four winners of the 2011 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Heart Award. Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia has been recognised in the World Group and World Group II first round category, while the Zone Group I winners are Belarus’s Victoria Azarenka, Peru’s Bianca Botto and Japan’s Ayumi Morita. The ties took place in February.
Jovanovski played a key role in Serbia’s narrow 3-2 victory over Canada in the World Group II first round in Novi Sad. In the absence of Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic, she stepped up to be the team’s No. 1 player and completed a dream weekend by winning all three of her rubbers without losing a set.
The teenager, competing in just her second Fed Cup tie, defeated former world No. 21 Aleksandra Wozniak and current Canadian No. 1 Rebecca Marino. She then partnered Aleksandra Krunic to win the deciding doubles against Sharon Fichman and Marie-Eve Pelletier.
Azarenka did not drop a set during the week-long Europe/Africa event. She cruised through the round-robin stage, with Belarus finishing first in Pool C, and went on to record an impressive triumph against fellow Top 10 player Agnieszka Radwanska. The result sealed a 2-0 victory for Belarus over Poland and a place in the World Group II play-offs.
Botto showed exceptional fight and spirit to help Peru finish second in Pool A at the Americas event. She won three out of four singles rubbers, with her only loss coming against the experienced Gisela Dulko, who went on to lead Argentina to victory in the play-off for promotion.
Morita remained unbeaten throughout the Asia/Oceania event as Japan topped Pool B and then beat Uzbekistan 3-0 to seal a World Group II play-offs spot. She did not drop a set in singles or doubles and captured the decisive point against Uzbekistan.
The four Heart Award recipients were decided by a public vote on FedCup.com and FedCup.com/es after ten players were shortlisted by a judging panel consisting of ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti, former players Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and Mercedes Paz, and four members of the international media. All the winners receive a Baccarat bracelet and a cheque to be donated to a chosen charity.
“There were some very strong candidates from the ties in February so I’d like to congratulate Bojana, Victoria, Bianca and Ayumi for coming out on top after the public vote," said ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti.
"The Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Heart Award continues to provide recognition for the outstanding contributions made by players towards their team and the competition as a whole. I’m sure the four winners will now take great pride in making donations to the charity of their choice.”
The Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Heart Award is a joint initiative between the ITF and BNP Paribas. It aims to recognise players who have represented their country with distinction, shown exceptional courage on court and demonstrated outstanding commitment to their team. A total of six players will be recognised in 2011.
Find out more about the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Heart Award