Fed Cup hit by German anthem gaffe, gamesmanship row

PARIS: Defending champions Czech Republic, Switzerland, Belarus and the United States reached the Fed Cup semifinals on Sunday but the tournament suffered an embarrassing gaffe over the German national anthem and accusations of gamesmanship. As 17-time champions United States were downing Germany 3-0 to book a home last-four date against the Czechs, their efforts were overshadowed by a controversial blunder over the German anthem played just before action got underway in Hawaii.
German star Andrea Petkovic said she had “never felt so disrespected” after an American soloist sang an old version of the anthem which leads off with a stanza considered overtly nationalist — “Deutschland, Deutschland ueber alles” — a reference to German supremacy. Singing that version is a major embarrassment in Germany, because of its strong links to the Nazi era, and only the third stanza of the old anthem is now in use.
Organisers apologised but a fuming Petkovic went on to lose to Alison Riske 7-6 (12/10), 6-2 to put the US 1-0 up on Saturday.
On Sunday, the organisers managed to play the correct version of the anthem. However, it didn’t help Germany who slipped 2-0 down when Goerges retired injured as she trailed CoCo Vandeweghe 6-3, 3-1. Vandeweghe then sealed a 3-0 win — and a first semifinal in seven years — with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 win over Petkovic after taking the last 10 games.
In Ostrava, Karolina Pliskova and Barbora Strycova led defending champions the Czech Republic into the semifinals for a ninth successive season with victory against Spain. Pliskova overcame French Open champion Garbine Muguruza 6-2, 6-2.
‘Like a kangaroo’
Then Strycova, ranked 17th, beat 70th-ranked Lara Arruabarrena 6-4, 6-4 in almost two hours.
Seeking a fourth straight Fed Cup title, and sixth from the last seven editions, the 10-time champions Czechs will travel to the US for the semifinals on April 22-23.
Switzerland knocked out last year’s runners-up France after Timea Bacsinszky downed Kristina Mladenovic 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 7-5 in a 3hr 20min thriller before Belinda Bencic eased past Pauline Parmentier 6-3, 6-4.
However, Bacsinszky was accused of gamesmanship by a frustrated Mladenovic.
On Saturday, world number 16 Bacsinszky left the court in Geneva for treatment to a wasp sting on her elbow while, on Sunday, she again sought medical help for a knee injury when a break point down in the sixth game of the deciding set.
When she returned, she took a 21-shot rally and claimed eight of the next nine points to stretch to a 5-2 lead.
“She did a kangaroo jump and ran better than before,” fumed Mladenovic. — AFP