Riske, Vandeweghe give U.S. Fed Cup lead against Germany

February 11, 2017 07:36 PM

By Ashley Marshall, USTA.com

Alison Riske won her first-ever Fed Cup singles match and CoCo Vandeweghe was up a set and a break when rain suspended play as the U.S. seized an early advantage over Germany on a wet and windy Day 1 of Fed Cup play in Hawaii.

In the opening match of the day, Riske fought a combination of the elements and her nerves to upset former Top 10 player Andrea Petkovic, 7-6, 6-3. Vandeweghe then jumped out in front of Julia Goerges, 6-3, 3-1, in another rain-interrupted contest before play was halted for the day.

The results leave Team USA in a solid position heading into the second and final day of competition, which could also be affected by inclement weather. Vandeweghe and Goerges will finish their match at 9:30 a.m. HST (2:30 p.m. EST), with Vandeweghe leading 15-0 on the German's serve in the fifth game.

“I was fighting a lot of nerves,” said Riske, who had trouble holding back tears during the opening ceremony. “Like I said, we all want to win for our country, our team, our captain. I was fighting nerves up until then. I'm just happy that I was able to put us on the board. … It's been a good Day 1 for us.” 

Riske, ranked 40th in the world, struck the ball well from both wings, especially on the backhand side, in winning her first Fed Cup point and getting the U.S. off on the right foot. She broke to love in the very first game of the match and raced out to a 3-1 lead in windy conditions before Petkovic broke back twice in succession. The former world No. 9 was unable to serve out the set at 5-4 and Riske went on to force a tiebreak.

Play was briefly suspended at the one-hour mark with the first-set breaker level at 3-3, before each player saved several set points when they resumed action. Petkovic saved three set points and Riske saved two of her own, including one on the German’s racquet, before winning the final three points to take the opening set in 64 minutes. 

If the first set was defined by drama and balance, the second was the exact opposite. Riske broke the former world No. 9 twice in a row and dropped just one of 13 points on serve in establishing a commanding 5-0 advantage. Petkovic, who dropped to 12-7 in Fed Cup singles play, got on the board in the sixth game and broke to stay alive at 2-5, but the American closed the rubber out at the next opportunity to give Team USA a 1-0 lead.

In the second match of the day, Vandeweghe established a strong lead over Germany's No. 2 player Goerges in a stop-start contest that featured three rain delays and an injury.

Australian Open semifinalist Vandeweghe and Goerges exchanged breaks in the second and third games of the opening set before Vandeweghe won an eight-minute sixth game on her fifth break opportunity. 

She handled the conditions the better of the two, and a 25-minute delay before the start of the second set did little to take away the American’s momentum. The Californian broke to begin the second set after the courts were dried and established a 3-1 lead before the rain halted play once more.

In the point immediately before the players were taken off the court, Goerges took a tumble, slipping on the baseline as she tried to push off to change direction. She was helped off to the sidelines and received medical treatment on her leg during the rain delay, which lasted more than two-and-a-half hours before play was suspended for the day.

The match will resume Sunday ahead of the final three matches, which will see Vandeweghe and Petkovic square off, followed by Riske against Goerges. Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Vandeweghe are then scheduled to play Laura Siegemumd and Carina Witthoeft in the doubles match, if necessary. The lineups are subject to change.

For more on Sunday's weather conditions and weather updates throughout the day, click here.

The winner of this matchup will advance to face either the Czech Republic or Spain in the World Group semifinals, held April 22-23, for a chance to compete for the 2017 Fed Cup title. The losing nation will compete in the World Group Playoffs in April to remain in the World Group for 2018.