KHARKIV, UKRAINE: Serena Williams clinched the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group play-off tie when she gave the United States an insurmountable 3-0 lead over Ukraine on Sunday.
Williams defeated 110th-ranked Lesia Tsurenko 63 62 to return the United States to the World Group in 2013. This year marked the first time in Fed Cup history that USA, who have won a record 17 Fed Cup titles, had been relegated to World Group II action.
“I feel really good and now we’re back in the World Group where we want to be,” said the ninth-ranked Williams.
The Ukraine’s loss bounces them back to World Group II Fed Cup competition next year.
For the second consecutive day, Williams lost her serve when serving for the match. On Sunday, at 5-1, she played a tentative game to lose her serve at 15-40 when Tsurenko blasted an unreachable forehand return to an open part of the court. Williams broke serve to love in the next game to close out the one-hour, 14-minute match played under threatening rain skies.
The match was certainly not the cleanest played, but Williams’s talent enabled her to overcome 33 unforced errors she put up to 31 for Tsurenko.
Tsurenko surrendered her serve in the fifth game of the first set to give Williams the lead. She had opportunities to recoup the service break in the next game - the one marathon game of the match - that went 22 points, saw Williams serve three aces and three double faults, and save two break points.
"I felt I won that game and I kept giving it away,” Williams said. “I kept hitting double faults. That game was really good for me to get through, for sure.”
Williams broke serve in the final game of the first set when Tsurenko netted a backhand at 30-40. In the second set, Williams broke serve in the fourth and sixth games to take a 5-1 lead.
Williams thought Tsurenko has great potential for the future: “I thought she played well and she has a lot of power. She has a really solid stroke on both sides.”
Tsurenko, however, did not believe she was at her best this weekend. “This match was better than yesterday, but I’m not so happy with my tennis,” she said. “She was playing good as usual. She’s really strong, really confident, good serve, good receive.
“I just won all the long points. When I was able to start the point, make more than two shots, usually I won that point. But, of course, I enjoyed the match and it was a big experience for me. I hope to use everything I see today for the future.”
USA made it a 5-0 whitewash after wins for Christina McHale 75 63 over Elina Svitolina and Liezel Huber and Sloane Stephens 64 61 against sisters Lyudmyla and Nadiya Kichenok.
Captain Mary Joe Fernandez (USA) - 22/04/2012
Serena Williams (USA) - 22/04/2012
Christina McHale (USA) - 22/04/2012