Williams sisters lead U.S.
Tennis ASSOCIATED PRESS,
Venus Williams needed eight match points in the final game to beat Johanna Larsson 6-3, 7-5 and give the U.S. an insurmountable 3-1 lead against Sweden in the Fed Cup World Group Playoff.
It marked the first time that the 21st-ranked Williams, a former No. 1, has clinched a Fed Cup tie for the U.S. in 10 ties played.
Earlier Sunday, her sister, world No. 1 Serena Williams, boosted the U.S. to a 2-1 lead when she posted a 6-2, 6-1 win over 54th-ranked Sofia Arvidsson.
U.S. captain Mary Joe Fernandez made a last minute substitution putting in Venus Williams for the 16th-ranked Stephens in the fourth match. Stephens lost the first match of the weekend to Arvidsson.
"The hardest thing was trying to decide when to play which one," Fernandez said. "At the end of the day, experience just goes a long way. Venus has been there so many times before.
"To have her in that clinching match for me was really important."
Fernandez also knew Williams was desperate to play.
"To be honest, I wanted to be out there," Williams said. "I told Mary Joe yesterday I feel good, I feel positive. I pumped myself up and I wanted to be there for the team."
The final score was 3-2 after the U.S. defaulted the doubles match, giving the doubles point to Sweden, due to injury of three of four of the American players.
The victory guarantees the U.S. a spot in the coveted 2014 Fed Cup World Group, while Sweden will play Group II.
Djokovic outlasts Nadal in Monte Carlo: Novak Djokovic kissed the clay and marveled at this sudden turn.
The top-ranked Serb won the Monte Carlo Masters, and for the first time in nine years the trophy belonged to someone other than Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard's record reign at this tournament ended Sunday with a 6-2, 7-6 (1) loss in the final.
"Rafa, thank you for allowing me to win it once," Djokovic said. "I couldn't ask for a better start to the clay season."
After closing the match with another booming forehand, Djokovic held his head in his hands and looked skyward before talking to himself for a few seconds. He dropped to the ground and planted a kiss. Last year, Djokovic's grandfather died during the tournament but he kept playing to reach the final.
Nadal won his 46 previous matches and the last eight titles at Monte Carlo -- beating Djokovic in last year's final -- and his last defeat in the event was to Guillermo Coria 10 years ago. Nadal missed the 2004 tournament because of injury before winning his first Monte Carlo title the following year.