Tennis New Today: Serena Loses but USA Scrape Past Latvia in Fed Cup

Serena Williams Australian Open 2021

18-time champion USA made it to the Fed Cup Finals after edging past a fighting Latvian team on the second day of the competition.

After having taken a 2-0 lead on the first day of the competition, USA looked overwhelming favourites to wrap up this best-of-five tie when Sofia Kenin took on Jelena Ostapenko in the first match of the day.

Ostapenko, who had finished the 2019 season on a high, came off with a fighting win against the Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin. She reduced the deficit after winning 6-3, 2-6, 6-2.

However, the bigger task was for Anastasija Sevastova to overcome 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, who had won 14 Fed Cup matches in a row before this. Making the task doubly difficult for Sevastova was she was yet to win a match this entire year, having lost in the openers of three successive tournaments.

And she had begun the Fed Cup with a straightforward defeat at the hands of Kenin, making it a near-improbable ask for her.

As it turned out, Sevastova held her nerve and came through in three, gruelling sets, winning 7-6 (5), 3-6, 7-6 (4).

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This took the tie into the deciding, doubles match where Kenin combined with Bethanie Mattek-Sands to win 6-4, 6-0 and take USA to the finals. It looked like the Ostapenko-Sevastova pair had lost their sting after their singles performance and a very fresh Mattek-Sands took full toll of that.

They will be joined by Russia, Spain, Belarus, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and Slovakia, who all won their Qualifiers earlier in the day. The other four who had already qualified for the Finals included hosts Hungary, Australia, France and Czech Republic.

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