The ITF today announced a shortlist of ten players to receive the first four Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Heart Awards of 2011. Awards will be presented in four categories based on performances in the Fed Cup World Group and World Group II first round ties, and the three Zone Group I events at the beginning of February.
Kim Clijsters (BEL), Bojana Jovanovski (SRB), Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) and Flavia Pennetta (ITA) have all been shortlisted for the World Group/World Group II award. Victoria Azarenka (BLR) and Arantxa Rus (NED) have been shortlisted for Europe/Africa; Bianco Botto (PER) and Florencia Molinero (ARG) for Americas; and Noppawan Lertcheewakarn (THA) and Ayumi Morita (JPN) for Asia/Oceania.
The shortlist has been compiled by the Heart Award judging panel consisting of ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti and a mixture of former players and members of the media. A public vote is being held on FedCup.com and FedCup.com/es to decide the winners, with voting running from 1-22 March. All four winners will receive a silver Baccarat bracelet and a cheque to be donated to their chosen charity.
ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “The Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Heart Award continues to recognise the valuable contributions made by players to their country and the competition. We once again saw some outstanding ties last month, and all the shortlisted players played a vital part in their nation’s success.”
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.
VOTING HAS NOW CLOSED
WORLD GROUP / WORLD GROUP II
Kim Clijsters (BEL)
Clijsters raced back from Melbourne - where she was crowned Australian Open champion for the first time - to take her place in Belgium’s team. She demonstrated why she is ranked No. 2 in the world by easing past Melanie Oudin 60 64 and sealed the decisive rubber against Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who, after a gutsy first set display, succumbed 67(10) 62 61.
Bojana Jovanovski (SRB)
Jovanovski, who in just her second Fed Cup tie stepped in as Serbian No. 1 in the absence of Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic, won all three of her matches to complete a dream weekend for the teenager. She defeated former world No. 21 Aleksandra Wozniak 64 75 and current Canadian No. 1 Rebecca Marino 76(3) 63 before partnering Aleksandra Krunic in the deciding doubles, winning 76(5) 64 against Sharon Fichman and Marie Eve Pelletier.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)
Pavlyuchenkova led an historic fight back for the Russians, as they came from 0-2 down for the first time ever to beat France. She wasn’t selected on day one, but came into the team to replace Maria Sharapova on day two, winning 36 63 62 against Alize Cornet before teaming up with Svetlana Kuznetsova to defeat Julie Coin and Pauline Parmentier 76(4) 60 in the deciding doubles.
Flavia Pennetta (ITA)
With Italy trailing 1-0, Pennetta held her nerve to outlast world No. 5 Samantha Stosur 76(5) 67(5) 64 and level the tie. She then clinched the decisive rubber for the visitors by defeating Jarmila Groth 63 62. These results stretched her unbeaten run in Fed Cup singles play to 11 matches, dating back to April 2009.
Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
Azarenka lived up to the hype that her world No. 9 ranking created by not dropping a set during the event. She cruised through the group stage, with Belarus finishing first in Pool C, and went on to record a big 75 75 triumph against fellow Top 10 player Agnieszka Radwanska in Belarus’s 2-0 victory over Poland in the promotion play-offs.
Arantxa Rus (NED)
Rus defied her lowly ranking of No. 111 by impressively beating three players inside the world’s Top 60 in straight sets. She helped Netherlands top Pool D, and then in the fight for promotion against Switzerland beat the experienced Patty Schnyder 64 61. The Dutch went down 2-1 to the Swiss, however, after Rus and Michaela Krajicek lost to Schnyder and Timea Bacsinszky 75 62 in the final doubles.
Bianca Botto (PER)
Botto showed exceptional fight and spirit to help Peru finish second in Pool A. She won three out of four singles rubbers, with her only loss coming against the experienced Gisela Dulko 60 63, who went on to lead Argentina to victory in the play-off for promotion.
Florencia Molinero (ARG)
Making her Fed Cup debut, Molinero was an ever present in the Argentinean team that finished top of Pool A and then beat Colombia 3-0 in the promotion play-off. She had an unbeaten singles record as the team’s No. 2 player during the week.
Noppawan Lertcheewakarn (THA)
With Tamarine Tanasugarn on the sidelines due to injury, Lertcheewakarn, a former top ranked junior, admirably stepped up to the No. 1 position to help Thailand finish third overall. She won three singles and two doubles rubbers.
Ayumi Morita (JPN)
Morita, the world No. 58, remained unbeaten throughout the week as Japan topped Pool B and then beat Uzbekistan 3-0 in the play-off for promotion. She didn’t drop a set in singles or doubles.