After another weekend of high drama and emotion in Fed Cup by BNP Paribas, we take a look back at what some of the leading players said after guiding their team to victory.
Jankovic has been the lynchpin of Serbia’s Fed Cup team since they began playing as an independent nation in 2007, leading them from the regional stages all the way to the competition’s top division, the World Group.
Now, after a hard fought win over Russia in Moscow at the weekend - sealed by Jankovic with victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova - Serbia have the chance to achieve their dream of lifting the Fed Cup trophy for the first time. All that stand in their way are the defending champions, Czech Republic!
“I have goosebumps right now because it’s so exciting for us. At the end [against Kuznetsova] I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, we’re going to get in the Final.’ I was like, ‘Just get the serve in, just play the point!’ I was so happy to win in the end, it wasn’t easy.
“I’ve achieved a lot in my individual career. I’ve been No. 1 in the world, but playing for my country is very special and it has a different feeling. We have come a long way. I remember those days when we played in those lower groups. To be playing for the trophy for our country is so exciting.”
Kvitova has established herself as the world’s best indoor player. After her two victories against Italy in Ostrava, the world No. 3 has stretched her unbeaten run on indoor courts to an incredible 29 matches. Add that to her current winning streak in Fed Cup, which now stands at 10 rubbers, and it’s easy to see why Czech Republic have become the team to beat.
With Kvitova at the helm, the Czechs won the Fed Cup title for the sixth time in 2011, although it was their first triumph for over 20 years. Petr Pala’s team will be favourites to add to that tally when they host Serbia in this season’s Final, but that doesn’t make it any less nerve-wracking for Kvitova, who clinched their win over Italy by defeating Francesca Schiavone.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling. I really wanted to be again in the Final. I hope that the public that was here come to support us in the Final again. Every Fed Cup I’m playing I’m nervous. Francesca played unbelievable tennis. I’m very happy I won.”
Williams appears to have caught the Fed Cup bug after leading USA back to the World Group with victory over Ukraine in Kharkiv. Until this year, the 13-time Grand Slam champion hadn’t played in the competition since 2007, but now she is already looking ahead to next season.
“I absolutely love this team. I love Liezel, she is just so amazing and so perfect. Christina is awesome as well, and Sloane and I get along like two peas in a pod. Mary Joe is a young coach, she hasn’t been off tour for too long so she really knows and has so much experience. It’s a fabulous opportunity for me, I absolutely love it.
“It’s good to have Mary Joe out there. I told her at the beginning of the week, ‘Whatever you want to tell me, tell me, I am all ears’. I am open to any suggestions. I am out there to learn. I feel like I am a kid learning. I haven’t accomplished everything. It’s good to have a coach and different eyes out there.
“Ukraine exceeded my expectations. I had a really good time here. Everyone here has been great. I have so many fans here, which is kind of weird, but it’s really amazing and really cool. I was kind of nervous about coming here, it’s so far, but I was really wishing today that today was Friday because I have really enjoyed myself here."
Will Serena play Fed Cup next year…
“Definitely, it’s the perfect week for me… next year it will be two weeks after the Australian Open, which is even better!”
Hantuchova is a true Fed Cup stalwart, making her debut for Slovak Republic in 1999 and going on to win the title in 2002 after beating Spain in the Final. During this time, she's competed in 24 ties and built up an impressive 32-16 win-loss record.
After her performance in the Slovak team's win over France in February, Hantuchova was nominated for a Heart Award, which she subsequently won after a public vote on the Fed Cup website. A similar display against Spain - when she overcame injury concerns to win the vital third point against Lourdes Dominguez-Lino - saw slovak Republic regain their World Group status for 2013.
“I’m really proud of the way I have played. It was a very tough match for me, especially with my injury. I was struggling a lot and I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to play, and that is why this victory is that much more important.
“It means so much to be back in the World Group, I came here 10 years ago and won the whole thing and leaving the country again with another win makes it very special. We are back where we belong now. I definitely feel we belong to the top eight teams in the world.”
Hantuchova on winning a Heart Award...
“It’s something very special to me. Awards like this mean more than any trophy I have because it’s for the fans and that’s what you play tennis for. Because the match was played in Slovakia, the cheque is going to my home city where I was born in Poprad to the hospital for the kids department.”
Stosur regards playing for Australia as a 'special' feeling, so she was delighted to lead her team back into the World Group by overcoming a talented German side in Stuttgart. She claimed back-to-back singles wins against Top 15 opposition, Angelique Kerber and Andrea Petkovic, both in straight sets.
“It’s always nice to be able to represent your country and play in a team. It doesn’t happen very often for us and when it does it’s really special to be a part of that. It’s something that you always want to do when you’re growing up as a kid and to be able to represent your country is something to be very proud of, so I’m going to be there whenever possible.”