The International Tennis Federation announced that Liezel Huber
(USA), Bethanie Mattek-Sands
(USA), Flavia Pennetta
(ITA) and Francesca Schiavone
(ITA) have been shortlisted for the final Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Heart Award of 2010. All four players competed in the World Group semifinals in April.
Mattek-Sands and Huber both played in the USA’s 3-2 semifinal victory over Russia at Birmingham, Ala. With the home team trailing 1-2, Mattek-Sands battled past the higher-ranked Ekaterina Makarova to send the tie into a deciding fifth rubber, in which she partnered Huber to defeat Elena Dementieva and Alla Kudryavtseva.
Schiavone and Pennetta once again teamed up with devastating effect to help Italy complete a 5-0 semifinal win over the Czech Republic without dropping a set at Rome. Pennetta won both her singles rubbers, and Schiavone played one singles before teaming up with Sara Errani in doubles.
The United States and Italy will now face each other in the Final for the second consecutive year. Italy clinched its second Fed Cup title in 2009 after a 4-0 home victory over the U.S. This year’s tie is poised to be much closer, when the teams meet in San Diego, Nov. 6-7.
The Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Heart Award is a joint initiative between BNP Paribas and the ITF. It aims to recognize players who have represented their country with distinction, shown exceptional courage on court and demonstrated outstanding commitment to their team.
The winner, decided by a public vote held on FedCup.com
, receives a silver Baccarat bracelet and a check for $10,000 to be donated to her chosen charity.
A total of six Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Heart Awards are being presented in 2010. Earlier in the year, Yanina Wickmayer (BEL), Jelena Jankovic (SRB), Maria-Fernanda Alves (BRA), Kimiko Date-Krumm (JPN) and Katarina Srebotnik (SLO) were all recognized.
ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said: "I would like to congratulate the four players who have been shortlisted for the final Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Heart Award of 2010. It has been another memorable year for the competition, and it is shaping up to be one of the closest and most exciting Finals in years. I would also like to encourage all fans to go online and vote, as it provides a great opportunity to reward the skill, effort and character of the players."
Liezel Huber (USA)
The United States reached its second consecutive Final after edging past Russia, 3-2, at Birmingham. The tie went down to the deciding fifth rubber, with doubles specialist Liezel Huber teaming up with Bethanie Mattek-Sands to defeat Elena Dementieva and Alla Kudryavtseva, 6-3, 6-1. Huber’s calming influence on the doubles court once again proved crucial for the Americans.
Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA)
With the U.S. trailing 1-2 against Russia, Bethanie Mattek-Sands battled past the higher-ranked Ekaterina Makarova, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, to send the tie into a decider. Mattek-Sands then partnered with Liezel Huber to win the doubles rubber, 6-3, 6-1, sealing the home team’s place in the Final for the second straight year.
Flavia Pennetta (ITA)
Flavia Pennetta further enhanced her Fed Cup pedigree with a pair of singles victories in Italy’s 5-0 whitewash against the Czech Republic at Rome. Pennetta defeated Lucie Hradecka, 6-4, 7-5, and then clinched the decisive point against Petra Kvitova, 7-6 (3), 6-2, as Italy continues its bid to retain the trophy it won for the second time in 2009.
Francesca Schiavone (ITA)
Italy continued its recent Fed Cup domination, with Francesca Schiavone producing another imposing performance against the Czech Republic. Schiavone, who went on to win the Roland Garros title six weeks later, triumphed over Lucie Safarova, 6-0, 6-2, before joining forces with Sara Errani to defeat Lucie Hradecka and Kveta Peschke, 6-2, 6-4.