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Fed Cup 2016: Williams seals the victory for USA

Venus Williams and teammates on a victory lap after defeating Poland in their Fed Cup tie. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Venus Williams and teammates on a victory lap after defeating Poland in their Fed Cup tie. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

Venus Williams won her second singles match of the weekend Sunday to ensure victory for the U.S. in the Fed Cup World Group II first round and advance to the World Group Playoff in April.

USA heads to Australia for the next tie. A win would put the U.S. in contention for the Fed Cup title next year.

Williams need just one hour to snap up a 6-1, 6-2 win against Poland’s Magda Linette and secure a place in the next round.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands and CoCo Vandeweghe defeated Klaudia Jans-Ignacik and Paula Kania, 6-1, 7-5, to wrap up play at Holua Tennis Center.

After going up 4-0, the fourth singles match was not played.

In Sunday’s first match of the day in windy conditions, world No. 12 Venus Williams cruised past world No. 96 Magda Linette, 6-1, 6-2, in one hour and one minute to clinch the victory for the United States.

Williams and Linette had never faced each other on the WTA Tour.

Williams is now 19-2 in Fed Cup singles play, while Linette is 1-5.

In the dead doubles rubber, Vandeweghe and Mattek-Sands faced playing captain Jans-Ignacik and Kania, who substituted for Rosolska.

In the end, Vandeweghe and Mattek-Sands won their match, 6-1, 7-5, in one hour and 15 minutes.

Vandeweghe and Mattek-Sands were playing together for the first time and Vandeweghe had beat Mattek-Sands in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Australian Open mixed doubles tournament last month.

Vandeweghe is now 2-0 in Fed Cup doubles play, also playing in a dead doubles rubber last year with Taylor Townsend in the World Group II First Round in Argentina, while Mattek-Sands is 4-0 in doubles, last playing Fed Cup doubles in the 2010 World Group Semifinal against Russia.

Jans-Ignacik is now 20-10 in Fed Cup doubles play, while Kania is 1-2.

The U.S. is now 21-0 when leading 2-0 after the first day of play (since the World Group format was instituted in 1995), 38-6 all-time in Fed Cup ties played at home, and holds an overall 145-36 record.

Fed Cup is the world’s largest annual international team competition in women’s sport with approximately 100 nations taking part each year. The U.S. leads all nations with 17 Fed Cup titles, the last coming in 2000.

The United States Fed Cup Team will travel to Australia for the 2016 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group Playoffs, April 16-17 at a site to be determined.

The International Tennis Federation announced the draw Tuesday for the 2016 World Group Playoffs.

Australia is seeded No. 8, while the United States was unseeded.

The seeds were based on the new ITF Fed Cup Nations Ranking of Feb. 8.

The U.S. advanced to the Playoffs after winning its World Group II First Round tie this past weekend by defeating Poland, 4-0, at the Holua Tennis Center in Kailua-Kona,.

Australia will determine the location and playing surface for the match, pending ITF approval.

The winner advances to the World Group in 2017, while the losing nation will compete in World Group II next year.

The United States has faced Australia 13 times, holding an 8-5 overall record over the country.

The two countries last met in 1985, in a World Group – Semifinal played in Nagoya, Japan, where the U.S. won, 2-1.

The U.S. and Australia have met a total of 10 times for the Fed Cup title, where the Americans hold a 7-3 advantage.

The two nations also competed in the inaugural Fed Cup event in 1963, with the U.S. winning their first of 17 Fed Cup titles.

The United States leads all nations with 17 Fed Cup titles, the last coming in 2000. The U.S. is 38-6 all-time in Fed Cup ties played at home and holds an overall 145-36 record.

Fed Cup by BNP Paribas is the World Cup of Tennis. It is the largest annual international team competition in women’s sport, with 102 nations taking part in 2016.

Team USA Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: We will take questions.

Q. Bethanie and Coco, tell us about how the sun and the wind kind of played doubles with you today a little bit out there.

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I mean, it was swirling pretty good out there. The sun actually wasn’t too, too bad. It was a little to the left even on the serving side. Definitely made for interesting tosses in the wind.

I mean, it’s something you have to get used to. You play in windy places. You know your opponents are going through the same thing. It’s not really like you have a disadvantage, but you just kind of got to know how to play with the wind.

COCO VANDEWEGHE: Luckily in doubles we chose in the second set to keep on the serving side, so we really didn’t have to adjust too much on the serve, whereas in singles you’re constantly adjusting your serve.

I was a little bit worried about it in the beginning because in the warmup I completely whipped a ball that I thought was right there on a forehand. I thought, Oh, boy, this is rough.

Like Bethanie said, you have to get used to it as quick as possible. I don’t think the sun was a factor at all, at least on my side. I think we did a good job of it.

Q. Is there any more that you could have gotten out of this weekend?

CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: No (laughter).

The goal was to get a win any which way we could. I think it’s great we were able to win all matches. We mentioned this at the beginning of the week: Team competition is different. The pressures are different. The expectations are different. Working together means a lot.

So everybody on the team had great chemistry. They worked for the common goal. We were able to get the win. So we’re very, very excited and happy.

Q. Second set, I can’t remember the exact score, but you were down a couple of breaks, maybe a Love-30 game. Any nerves at that point? What were you thinking? How did you pull it out to capture that quick second set?

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: They came up with some good shots. They ripped a couple balls, had some good reflex volleys that came back.

Not to discredit their play by any means in the second set. But we just played our game. We kept playing aggressive, closing the net. That’s how we won the first set. We’re prepared for our opponents to step up and play better. Maybe have a little less pressure on them in the second and go for a few shots.

I think it’s business as usual. We had our game plan and we stuck to it.

COCO VANDEWEGHE: I agree. There’s ebbs and flows to every match. It’s how you weather the storm for their good play and also adjusting to your own play. At times Bethanie and I were playing in sync, and at times we weren’t. This is the first time we ever played together. I think we have to take that into account as well.

But I think we adjusted well right after the break, showing our dominance and presence again, basically dominating their serves right back.

Q. Mary Joe, could you explain what the next step is in Fed Cup and why this is a significant moment.

CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: A big matchup, because now we’re one step closer to getting back into the World Group next year. This was very important.

Now we go on in April to play our next one, try to get three wins again to compete for the Fed Cup title next year. We have the chance next year.

Q. Coco, when you’re watching what she’s doing on the court, where she’s hitting the ball, are you happy you’re not playing against her?

COCO VANDEWEGHE: I mean, I’ve played against her plenty of times. But, yes, Bethanie is a very accomplished player on the singles and doubles court. She brings a presence about her with her game style, just mindset, overall general swagger, I guess you could say, on the court.

To have that on my side of the net is definitely a positive any way you cut it.

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Coco beat us in mixed doubles in Australia. She’s stepping up the doubles game.

COCO VANDEWEGHE: I almost hit Bob on match point. Just go for it. I’m going line on Bob.

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: You going back, c’mon (laughter).

Q. You guys have heard us all week. We kind of go googly over Venus Williams, and I think for good reason. She came out and sat in the hot sun with you today. You sat out for three or four hours yesterday. The consummate team players to go through with that. Any thoughts on Venus joining the bench today after getting the win?

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: No, I think it just shows what a great event it is in the team sense. Not too often you have your peers and your friends watching your match and cheering you on. It’s just such an individual sport.

But Venus is a great team player. She’s a good friend, great person off the court and on the court. It was a lot of fun.

I think we had a lot of fun, us four girls and MJ. We had a really great week bonding.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

Venus Williams Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: We’ll take questions for Venus.

Q. A little bit of sun yesterday and a lot of wind today. Tell us how it affected the match and how you were able to adjust.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, during warmup at 8:15 in the morning, there was no wind. Then walk out on the court, it was just so windy.

Just had to be a little more patient, get ready for the ball to do anything. But I was happy to be able to still get through the court and be able to dictate, which is what I like to do.

Q. I got the sense early on your leg was a little sore and you just wanted to get out of there as fast as you could, play as well as you could.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I always want to get out there and win fast, but it doesn’t always happen that way.

But I guess when I had a short ball, I came in. Just wanted to be able to get in to the net. When I get my racquet on a volley, usually I’m able to do a lot with it.

Q. During the introduction, they introduced the Polish team. Then the American team comes out. We were waiting for Venus. You could just tell the crowd was ready to roar. All of a sudden they start with the music. So where was Venus?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I was in the bathroom. Yeah, they started without me. The show must go on (laughter).

Q. What was this experience like for you as a whole, the week leading up, the matches?

VENUS WILLIAMS: When Mary Joe first said the tie was in Hawaii, I literally threw my hands up in the air, I kid you not. I was like, Yes! I’ve just been very excited since then, just pumped to be here.

This has been the most enthusiastic crowd I’ve ever played in front of, for Fed Cup, or even at home. The enthusiasm, exciting. When they announced they were going to play the doubles, the crowd was so excited. You can hear them right now.

It’s just been a pleasure to play for that.

Q. Venus, with your win, you have clinched this particular Fed Cup victory. Could you speak what it means to the Fed Cup team overall. Now you get to go on to the next round. Help us understand why you’re in contention in Fed Cup.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I love playing. I love looking forward to playing the next ties, seeing who we’re going to play when the draw comes out. I love all of that.

I think I had a little bit of an advantage today because Sloane had a chance to play against Magda, so had a nice scouting report. I was able to really get started quickly. I think she did a little of the work beforehand for me. I kind of like had the heads-up.

Q. Could you assess the level of your game today, where you want that to take you this year. What are your priorities this year?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Definitely the level was better than yesterday. I had a few more errors yesterday. Especially with the conditions, I served really well. A lot of times I had to take some pace off just to get some first serves in.

But definitely feeling like I’m playing my game well in terms of just being aggressive, dictating, doing what I have to do.

The rest of the year, I want to win every match I play. Who doesn’t?

Q. (Question regarding the Olympics.)

VENUS WILLIAMS: It’s very close, but not close enough. I can’t wait to be there, to just participate, be on the team. I can’t wait. I’ve lived for the Olympics ever since I played my first one. That’s high on my list, high on my list.

Q. I’m assuming from here that you’re heading to California?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I’ll be there.

Q. First time in how many years? A tournament without Venus is not a tournament.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Thank you. That’s kind of you to say. But the tournament did go on without me.

It’s a great tournament. It’s a great event. Serena’s definitely played the biggest role in me returning. To be able to go back and be there with her, it will be very special for me.

Q. How do you celebrate a Fed Cup win in Hawaii?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Not as much as you like. You get on a plane.

But as a team, we’ll cherish the moments until we are reunited again at the next Fed Cup.

Q. No mai-tai?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Not in the middle of the season. You know that puts on weight, right (laughter)?

Thank you, guys.

Magda Linette Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: At this time we’d like to start the press conference for Magda. First question.

Q. Before we get into questions about the match, you were treated to a beautiful week here in Hawaii. Today Madame Pele came. Any thoughts on the wind and how you had to adjust?

MAGDA LINETTE: Well, you know, I just tried to play a bit bigger target, to play a bit more in the middle of the court because I knew that Venus will come with a lot of power.

I was thinking to try to keep at first the ball in the court as much as I can. Obviously she’s great player. Wherever I slowed down in the beginning, she used, she went for it. She was just better than me than me today. She is more experienced and used it much better.

I was lost and couldn’t handle also the return of her serve. Yeah, so it was definitely difficult environment to play. But we both had the same conditions. She just used it very well. I still need to learn a lot.

Q. If somebody else was in your situation on the Polish team, how would you have them prepare to play her? How would you describe her game?

MAGDA LINETTE: Well, obviously she’s a very hard-hitter. But until you go on the court and actually face her, you cannot prepare. At least me, I first need to feel the ball on the racquet to see how is it.

Obviously I had the plan to play as long rallies as I can with her and try to move her as much as I can. That’s basically what was my plan.

I didn’t maybe execute it that well today, but I hope I will have one more or two more opportunities and I will just try better next time.

Q. You’ve been here for more than two weeks. What did you get out of the last week in particular? Do you feel like you learned as a team for next time?

MAGDA LINETTE: Definitely we having a captain, so all of us a new situation. We have a new team for this week. I also joined the team after I think four years, four or five years.

Definitely we learned a lot. We learned about ourselves. We actually got to know each other a bit better because, you know, now we were like close to each other.

I was actually playing and Klaudia was the captain. She really had to know my feelings, about my practice, how do I feel on the court, out of the court. We all became I think like really amazing friends. That was the first thing a team does. We were like really a true team.

I really enjoyed that time. I worked really well because the atmosphere was amazing. I just hope I can play in the next match and I will do my best.

Q. It’s still very early in the year. What are your plans for the rest of the year as far as tennis goes, your tournaments or your schedule?

MAGDA LINETTE: Well, of course main goal is to play main draw of Grand Slams. As long as I’m in the main draw, I will try to play myself in WTA. I will see how that goes. In case I lose maybe couple of matches, I will go on the lower level, go to ITF, to get more confidence.

So far I have scheduled all the WTAs. I just hope I do well. I showed yesterday I can play well. I will just work hard and I will try to do that, to play main draw of Grand Slams. I hope I can do well there.

Team Poland Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. I know one of you played yesterday. Conditions were very different from yesterday. Can you comment on how that changed the play today.

PAULA KANIA: You know, the weather is not dependable, so we have to adjust as quick as we can. It took us awhile with Klaudia, through the whole first set, but then we step up the level and I think it was way better.

It was really like four mistakes in the end. But we cannot say anything, like it was bad conditions or something. It was for both teams, yeah.

Q. Captain, were you pleased with the weekend? What did you learn for the team taking forward from here?

CAPTAIN JANS-IGNACIK: Yeah, of course, that was a big lesson for me. I’m not talking only about the weekend, but the whole week. We did amazing job.

First of all, we have new people in the team. The most important thing is that it works out, so we will be smarter for the next Fed Cup in April.

I’m real proud of my team and my girls and the guys who are helping us. We did our best. This is the most important thing now.

Q. You play all around the world, in many different tournaments. This is your first time playing in Hawaii. Will you come back?

PAULA KANIA: For holiday? We would love to come back. Doesn’t matter if it’s for tournament or holiday, that would be a point on the map to come back.

— Find out more:
www.usta.com/fedcup
www.fedcup.com

Bethanie Mattek-Sands reaches for a return in the doubles match Sunday. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Bethanie Mattek-Sands reaches for a return in the doubles match Sunday. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

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