Russia fielded a far stronger singles team against the United States in the semi-final match of the Fed Cup championships which was contested in Birmingham, Alabama last weekend.
The US did not send one player ranked in the world’s top 30 in singles, while Russia sent world #7 Elena Dementieva. The US sent only one player ranked in the top 100 in the world in singles, while all three of Russia’s players were ranked in the world’s top 80.
The outcome, therefore, was a foregone conclusion.
That’s right, the USA whipped Russia’s butt.
Dementieva won both of her matches against the inferior American competition, though she barely squeaked past the top American Melanie Oudin in their match, edging a first-set tiebreaker and then dropping every single game in the second set before recovering to eke out a win in the closely contested third.
And those were the only two victories the Russians could manage. Both of other two their players went down to humiliating defeat against the Americans, and then in the decisive doubles contest the Russian team of Dementieva and Kudryaseva were blown off the court in easy straight sets by the Americans, who proved to have an ace in the hole, fielding just two singles players to Russia’s three but adding Liezel Huber, the #1 doubles player in the world, to beef up their tandem.
But the American strategy meant that all Russia needed to do, assuming Dementieva could win both her matches against second-string rivals, was to win a match pitting the Russian world #62 against the American world #129, and the doubles contest would have been moot. Yet Russia could not pull it off, and the infinitely higher-ranked Russian went down in three sets, setting up the Americans for their devastating doubles beat-down, in which the Russian side took just four of sixteen games played.
Just imagine what would have happened to the Russians if America’s first string, Venus and Serena Williams, either of whom hold more grand slam titles than all Russian women in tennis history combined, had been in the mix. It would have been wholesale slaughter.