Fed Cup 2009, Italy are one win away from their second ever Fed Cup title



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Sunday April 26, 2009


Fed Cup 2009, Italy are one win away from their second ever Fed Cup title

All weekend the Italian Fed Cup team sitting courtside wore special t-shirts decorated with the face of Federico Luzzi on the front, the 28-year-old Italian player who died suddenly in October.

A tribute made not just in this semifinal but one also made in Rome on Sunday where the likes of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic gave up their time to play for the fans in Luzzi’s memory and for the charity bearing his name.

Without doubt had Luzzi still been alive and in Castellanetta Marina this weekend, he would have been especially proud to be an Italian. The team, led by the unrelenting Francesca Schiavone, reached its third Fed Cup by BNP Paribas final in four years. It was the 28-year-old’s weekend and in many ways, payback.

In the 2007 final in Moscow she suffered defeats in three sets on both the Saturday and the Sunday. Nineteen months on she can erase those memories and replace them with ones with a more joyful ending.

Schiavone a tennis coach’s dream

Schiavone can only be a tennis coach’s dream, willing to do everything within her powers to be at the top, emotive - at times to her detriment - but to remove any part of her character would be to take away so much of what makes her a great tennis player.

Grit and determination tell only half the story. After spending five hours on court over the weekend, Italy’s captain Corrado Barazzutti summed her up so well: “Francesca is made for these types of competitions”.

They say it takes two to tango though and Flavia Penetta, who won both her matches in France in the opening round, set the ball rolling. She belied the nerves of being watched by her close family and residents in nearby Brindisi to get Italy off on the right foot in defeating Anna Chakvetadze.

Russia unseated

So often, seasoned tennis observers have watched in awe as Russia’s revered captain Shamil Tarpischev seemingly sets himself up for a fall with a surprise selection, only to be vindicated.

The inclusion of 17-year-old rookie Anastasia Pavlychenkova to play the fourth, and what turned out to be the crucial rubber, looked like another but in the end it was a bridge too far. Without doubt, she will learn much from the experience.

The team then that had lost just two live Fed Cup rubbers in two years lose three in one weekend and relinquish their crown.

First ever home final for Italy

For the first time in their history the Italians will host the Fed Cup final. They’ll wait and keep fingers crossed their leaders of this weekend stay healthy.

Where it is to be held remains to be seen; Schaivone was asked by the Italian press if she would feel comfortable playing in front of her own fans in Milan. The answer was in the negative, her feeling that maybe Milan has too many other things for distraction.

The Williams sisters will prove a significant distraction should they don the stars and stripes in the autumn. US captain Mary Joe Fernandez was adamant she will do everything to get them on board.

But for now the cries of “Forza Italia” will continue to ring in the ears of those here this weekend. Italy are one win away from their second ever Fed Cup title.

The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour is the world’s leading professional sport for women with more than 2,200 players representing 96 nations competing for more than $86 million in prize money at the Tour’s 51 events and four Grand Slams in 31 countries. More than 4.8 million people attended women’s tennis events in 2008 with millions more watching events on television networks around the world. The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour season concludes with the Sony Ericsson Championships – Doha 2009 in Doha, Qatar, from October 27-November 1, and the inaugural Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions in Bali, Indonesia from November 4-8. Further information on the Tour can be found on the Internet at www.sonyericssonwtatour.com




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