USA vs Netherlands Fed Cup tennis World Group Round 1 News, Matches and Live Stream: Venus Williams beats Richel Hogenkamp to seal USA's semi-final berth

Leye Aduloju in Fed Cup 11 Feb 2018
  • Venus Williams took down Richel Hogenkamp to seal USA's semi-final berth
  • USA will play France in last four
  • Watch and bet on tennis live from Asheville at Unibet > live streaming > tennis
Serena Williams. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

Defending champions USA are through to the semi-finals of the 2018 Fed Cup after building an unassailable 3-0 lead over Netherlands.

USA vs Netherlands Fed Cup tennis is live from Asheville on Friday 10 February from 1:00pm local time/ 6:00pm GMT 
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Boasting one of the most formidable Fed Cup line-ups ever assembled, the United States are overwhelming favourites as they begin the defence of their Fed Cup title against Netherlands at the US Cellular Arena in Asheville this weekend. Spearheaded by the impressive CoCo Vandeweghe, the Americans ended a 17-year-wait for the title in 2017, but Vandeweghe slides down the pecking order of pedigree in the current squad as the legendary duo of Serena and Venus Williams join the team.

The big storyline of this fixture is undoubtedly Serena’s return, as the 23-time Grand Slam champion looks set to play her first competitive match since becoming a mother in early September. It will be her first tournament since the 2017 Australian Open, although she did play a one-off exhibition against French Open champion, Jelena Ostapenko in December in Abu Dhabi.

This is the first time since February 2015 that both Williams sisters will be on the same Fed Cup team- Serena has not played in the team event since April 2015, while Venus last featured in February 2016. 

Without a top-100 player in their current side, the Netherlands are up against it against their illustrious hosts, but the Europeans have punched above their weight in recent years, famously reaching the semi-finals in 2016. They will have to pull off one of the greatest upsets in Fed Cup history to return to that stage this year.



USA vs Netherlands Match Schedule



RUBBER 1: Venus Williams (USA) vs Arantxa Rus (NED); live from Asheville on Saturday, 10 February from 1:00pm local time/ 6:00pm GMT

Much of the talk around this tie has been around the return of Serena Williams, but it is elder sister, Venus who gets the nod for the tie’s opening rubber, as she takes on Dutchwoman, Arantxa Rus at the US Cellular Arena in Asheville on Saturday.

It’s a landmark match for the legendary Venus, as it represents her 1000th professional singles’ match across all levels. The world number eight returns to the Fed Cup for the first time since February 2016, when she defeated Paula Kania and Magda Linette to guide the Americans to a 4-0 victory over Poland in a World Group II quarter final tie. Overall, Venus boasts a 23-4 record in Fed Cup ties, 19-2 in singles’. The 37-year-old won the tournament in her first appearance back in 1999, playing a pivotal role as USA defeated Italy (in the semis) and Russia in the final to win the title for the sixteenth time.

She hasn’t tasted Fed Cup glory since then, as she was absent from the title-winning teams in 2000 and 2017. Can she roll back the years to propel her country to a successful title defence?
The American has been rolling back the years for the last couple of seasons, particularly in 2017, when she reached Grand Slam finals at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, and the semi-finals at the US Open on her way to finishing the year in the top 5. She has not made the greatest start to the 2018 season, suffering opening round defeats in Sydney and the Australian Open, but a successful Fed Cup weekend could be the catalyst for the great American to stat motoring again. She opens proceedings on Saturday against Arantxa Rus.

Rus has a 15-7 record in Fed Cup singles’ rubbers, although most of those wins have come in the lower levels of the competition. She hasn’t won a Fed Cup singles rubber since the World Group play-off against Australia in 2015, and featured only sparingly as the Netherlands reached the semis in 2016. 

A former Australian Open junior champion, and No. 1 on the world junior rankings, Rus has not quite fulfilled the potentials she showed as a youngster, and has been outside the top 100 since the middle of 2013. The left-hander, who reached the fourth round at Roland Garros back in 2012, contested a rare WTA quarter-final in s-Hertogenbosch last season, but her only other achievements of note were a runner-up finish at the 125K series meet in Taipei, and a couple of ITF titles in Middelburg and Hua Hin. Rus has already enjoyed ITF success this year, winning a 60K meet in Andrezieux-Boutheon after failing to qualify for the Australian Open. She had also fallen in the final qualifying round in her season-opener in Auckland.

Rus gets the Netherlands 2018 Fed Cup campaign underway when she takes on Venus Williams for the first time on Saturday, and despite Venus being 0-2 in 2018, there isn’t much else to suggest that the Dutchwoman can spring a highly unlikely upset against the veteran American.


RUBBER 2: CoCo Vandeweghe vs Richel Hogenkamp; live from Asheville on Saturday, 10 February from 2:30pm local time/ 7:30pm GMT

American coach, Kathy Rinaldi might have been tempted to go for the sensational option of Serena Williams in one of the singles’ ties, but she has stuck with CoCo Vandeweghe, which in many ways, appears to be the right call. Serena has not played since last year’s Australian Open; Vandeweghe, on the other hand, went on to complete a career-best season on the WTA Tour, ending the year with a top-10 finish for the first time in her career.

Perhaps more importantly, in the context of this tie, she was a fortress for the Americans last seasons, winning an amazing eight rubbers (six singles and two doubles) to fire the United States to a first Fed Cup title since 2000. Vandeweghe was the rock of that team, and the American No. 2 has been given the chance to continue from where she left off last year. The 26-year-old is yet to really get going this year- she slipped out of the top ten following her opening round loss at the Australian Open (she was defending semi-final points), but like her team mate, Venus, the Fed Cup may be the stage to launch herself back into form. She takes on Richel Hogenkamp in Saturday’s second singles’ rubber.

With Kiki Bertens absent from this tie, Hogenkamp takes charge as the Dutch No. 1, but what a difficult task she faces as she comes up against the competition’s reigning champions. She has an 8-4 record in Fed Cup singles’ rubbers, but didn’t play in the World Group until 2016- and what an introduction it was. Playing as the country’s No. 2 behind Bertens, Hogenkamp defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second rubber in what became the longest match in Fed Cup history as the Netherlands stunned Russia in Moscow to advance to the semi-finals.

Hogenkamp is currently ranked 108th in the world, and had her best WTA result from the previous year in Seoul, where she reached her first WTA semi-final. The 25-year-old is yet to win a match this year, falling at the first qualifying round in Auckland and Hobart, and losing to Lara Arruabarrena in the first round of the Australian Open. Can she open her account against Vandeweghe on Saturday?

She could catch Vandeweghe on a bad day and get under her irritable opponent’s skin, but the American has grown into a force in this competition, and appears to thrive under the responsibility of being part of a team. The Fed Cup brought out the best in her last year, and if that relationship continues, she should be too good for the Dutch on Saturday.

RUBBER 3: Venus Williams (USA) vs Richel Hogenkamp (NED), live from Asheville on Sunday February 11 at 1.00pm local time/6.00pm GMT

Coming into this Fed Cup tie on the back of opening round defeats in Sydney and at the Australian Open, Venus Williams was under a lot of pressure to perform for her country, playing in a Fed Cup tie for the first time since 2016 against an opponent she was expected to beat in front of her home fans.

Given the circumstances, Venus was exceptional in beating Arantxa Rus for the loss of just five games, but she could face a much sterner examination on Sunday as she attempts to win the tie for USA.

Rachel Hogenkamp was just two points of levelling the tie and all of a sudden giving Netherlands a great shot of prevailing when she was at 6-6 in the second set tiebreak against CoCo Vandeweghe, but she couldn’t get over the line as her higher-ranked American opponent dug deep and eventually came out on top.

Nevertheless, it was a superb showing from the Dutchwoman - and a display that was arguably expected considering her record in Fed Cup in the past, namely her tremendous victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarter-finals last year, where she beat her Russian rival in the longest Fed Cup match in history. However, like Venus, she hasn’t had the greatest start to 2018, failing to win a match during January as she went down in qualifying in Auckland and Hobart and in the first round of the Australian Open.

While Hogenkamp has proven credentials in Fed Cup (and almost pulled off the upset on Saturday), Venus still start as the overwhelming favourite in what will be their first meeting. Hogenkamp will need to start well and play her very best tennis, but with the USA so close to victory, expect Venus to play another professional match (her 1001st!) and seal the tie for the defending champions.

Latest USA vs Netherlands Fed Cup results


USA lead Netherlands 2-0

Rubber 1: Venus Williams (USA) def. Arantxa Rus (NED) 6-1 6-4

Playing in her 1000th professional career match, Venus Williams scored her 20th Fed Cup singles victory with a routine straight sets victory over Arantxa Rus in one hour and 21 minutes to hand USA the perfect start.


Venus Williams during her victory (Photo by Richard Shiro/Getty Images)


Venus joined the likes of Billie Jean King, Chris Evert and Lindsay Davenport as the only American women to win 20 or more Fed Cup singles matches.

“I felt proud,” Williams said of playing in front of the sold-out Asheville crowd. “You don’t want to let this crowd down, you don’t want to let your country down.”

Rubber 2: CoCo Vandeweghe (USA) def. Richel Hogenkamp (NED) 4-6 7-6(6) 6-3

While Venus was untroubled, CoCo Vandeweghe was made to work extremely hard in order to dig out a tight three-set win over Richel Hogenkamp and propel USA to a dominant 2-0 lead at the end of Day 1.


Coco Vandeweghe (Photo by Richard Shiro/Getty Images)


Hogenkamp came to within just two points of levelling the tie for Netherlands as she got to 6-6 in the second set tiebreak, but Vandeweghe showcased all of her fight to come away with the victory, extending her record in Fed Cup to a remarkable 13 consecutive wins.

“It was more just getting settled,” Vandeweghe said. “I haven’t played a match in a few weeks because in Australia I had the flu. It was more getting into match rhythm. Things happen. She’s a very good player. It’s life. I’m human so I make mistakes.”

Rubber 3: Venus Williams (USA) def. Richel Hogenkamp (NED) 7-5 6-1

Venus Williams confirmed USA's spot in the 2018 Fed Cup semi-finals with a 7-5 6-1 victory over Dutchwoman, Richel Hogenkamp. Hogenkamp fought hard in the opening set, recovering from a 0-3 deficit to hold a break point at 5-5, but Venus unleashed a mammoth forehand winner to save the break point, and motored away from her Dutch opponent after that. The American was unplayable towards the end, finishing off the match with a flurry of winners to give the US an unassailable 3-0 lead in the tie.

USA vs Netherlands squads


USA: Venus Williams, CoCo Vandeweghe, Lauren Davis, Serena Williams, Kathy Rinaldi (Captain)
Netherlands: Richel Hogenkamp, Arantxa Rus, Leslie Kerkhove, Demi Schuurs, Paul Haarhuis (Captain)


Serena Williams is the star turn wherever she goes, but this weekend carries even greater significance, as the legendary American looks set to play her first tour-level match since last year’s Australian Open. Quite a lot has happened since then- most notably, the birth of her first child, and her marriage to Alexis Ohanian in December. Having gone over a year without playing, Serena heads into the tie without a ranking, but it is surely just a matter of time before the she re-establishes her self in and around the top of the sport. Kathy Rinaldi is spoilt for choice in her selections- does Serena Williams play the singles rubbers? Or will she be eased back to action via the doubles? Will she partner sister Venus? The 36-year-old Williams has got a formidable 16-1 record in Fed Cup ties, and an even more daunting 13-0 mark in singles.


Sister Venus’ record isn’t shabby either- she boasts 19-2 in singles and 23-4 overall. While the elder Williams stayed away from the Fed Cup in 2017, she compiled a wonderful season on the WTA Tour, contesting Grand Slam finals at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the WTA Finals; and making the semi-finals at the US Open on her way to a year-end top-five finish. The 37-year-old hasn’t quite hit the ground running in 2018, losing her opening matches in Sydney and the Australian Open to Angelique Kerber and Belinda Bencic respectively. Still, she maintains an immense presence in the sport and presents versatility with her singles’ and doubles’ prowess.

Venus Williams. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
It seems a bit unfair that CoCo Vandeweghe only gets third mention here, given the pivotal role she played in bringing success to her country last season, but then again, she is only behind two of the greatest ever exponents of this great sport, with a combined 30 Grand Slam titles between them. That, of course doesn’t mean Vandeweghe will not feature heavily this weekend. She seems to thrive in a Fed Cup environment, relishing the chance to play for her country. The American was an unbelievable 8-0 in Fed Cup ties last year, winning all six singles ties and two doubles rubbers, include the title-clinching victory over Belarus in the final. Her Fed Cup success ran simultaneously with her career-best season on the tour, featuring Grand Slam semi-finals in Australia and New York, and a year-end top-ten finish. Like Venus, she has made a stuttering start to the new campaign, losing her season opener to Timea Babos at the Australian Open.

The fourth member of the American team is Lauren Davis, arguably most famous for that remarkable marathon against Simona Halep in the third round of the Australian Open. Davis is also a WTA titlist from Auckland in 2017, but she is yet to win a Fed Cup singles rubber (0-2).

In the absence of top 30 player, Kiki Bertens, the Dutch are spearheaded by Richel Hogenkamp, currently ranked 108th in the world. The 25-year-old Hogenkamp does have a decent Fed Cup record, winning eight of 12 singles rubbers and posting a 16-7 record overall. Hogenkamp broke into the top 100 for the first time in her career in the middle of last season, but she was out of that bracket by the end of the year, and has not returned since then. The Dutchwoman is yet to win a match this year, falling in the first round of qualifying in Auckland and Hobart, and losing to Lara Arruabarrena in the opening round of the Australian Open. Not the sort of form to take to the USA!

Arantxa Rus will most likely join Hogenkamp on singles’ duties. Rus is also quite experienced, with a 15-7 record in singles’ matches, although she is yet to win a Fed Cup singles’ match since 2015. The 27-year-old left hander, who peaked at No. 61 in 2012, has been out of the top 100 since June 2013, and is currently ranked 124th in the world.

Making up the Dutch team Lesley Kerkhove and Demi Schuurs- both of whom are top-100 doubles’ players, and could prove handy if and when they are called on.


Fed Cup format 


Fed Cup ties are played over the best of five rubbers over two days. Two singles rubbers are played on Saturday, followed by the reverse singles rubbers on Sunday with the tie going to a deciding doubles rubber if necessary.

Player nominations can be changed up until an hour before the start of play.

One nation hosts the tie, with the choice of ground decided by where the two competing teams played last time. It's the United States' turn to host this duel, as they welcome Netherlands to the US Cellular Arena in Asheville- a venue making its Fed Cup debut.



History


The United States and Netherlands have met on eight previous occasions, with the Americans enjoying a dominant 6-2 advantage. Their history dates back to 1963, when the Americans won a World Group quarter final in London. The most recent encounter between the sides was in 1998, when Lindsay Davenport and Monica Seles inspired the US to a 5-0 whitewash in a World Group 1 quarter final in Kiawah Island, California. 



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USA vs Netherlands Fed Cup tennis World Group Round 1 News, Matches and Live Stream: Venus Williams beats Richel Hogenkamp to seal USA's semi-final berth

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