ITALY BEGINS FED CUP TITLE DEFENSE IN NEAR-PERFECT FORM
Steve Fogleman reporting for TennisPanorama.com
Karin Knapp followed up on her win over Christina McHale yesterday with a clinching 6-3, 7-5 victory today over Alison Riske in the first round of the 2014 Fed Cup season in Cleveland, Ohio.
The Italians defeated the American team in all three live rubbers.
Knapp did have some trouble closing it out over Riske, who was a last-minute replacement for Madison Keys in an effort by Captain Mary Joe Fernandez to get some momentum for the US. Riske acquitted herself well. She elevated her game in the second set, and after drawing even with the Italian, she was broken at 5-5 in the next game. Knapp served it out from there.
Overall, the match was more competitive than it might appear.
“It’s not easy because she came back. I got a little bit nervous. I got a little bit of emotion.”
Knapp told the press that the team made a pact to jump in the Cleveland snow if they won the tie.
“After this, we will all put the jacket on, the scarf on and we will jump in the snow!”, she said.
No word on when and where that photo opportunity will occur, but the snowy tundra of Cleveland Public Square is conveniently located between the venue and the Fed Cup hotel.
The snow didn’t stop the crowd from arriving to cheer on the US team, but it did slow them down. There were many empty seats at the start of the tie, but the fans filled in to create a boisterous cheering section by the beginning of the second set. The Public Auditorium was noticeably louder than yesterday.
Riske had a “big group of people from Pittsburgh” to join her for the event. She called the tie “an unbelievable experience and noted the “awesome” support from the fans.
She’ll be in training in the two weeks leading up to Indian Wells.
Madison Keys and Lauren Davis won the inconsequential doubles rubber 6-2, 6-3 over Nastassja Burnett and Alice Matteucci.
Italy will advance to the quarterfinals, while the US will be attempting to simply avoid relegation from the World Group in their next outing.