- Sam Allard / Scene
- Italy's Karin Knapp, after her team's second win.
Italy struck first blood at the FedCup tennis tournament this afternoon with two decisive wins beneath the gilded mezzanines of Cleveland’s Public Auditorium downtown. In order to come away victorious, team USA will have to win all three matches tomorrow afternoon.
The United States’ Christina McHale fought valiantly in the first match vs. Italy’s big-hitting Karin Knapp. Knapp prevailed 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. After surrendering the first set, McHale clawed back in the second, pitting her precision and agility against Knapp’s ferocious ground strokes.
A nagging blister may have hampered her stroke some in the third, but McHale said afterward that it was simply a momentum shift.
“There were some chances I didn’t capitalize on” said McHale, who also acknowledged that she could have served with more consistency.
Madison Keys, the U.S. first-ranked player in this competition and 37th in the world, lost to Italy’s Camila Giorgi in the second match. Giorgi, who continues to wear sky blue velour leggings while her teammates wear bright blue track pants, played like a woman possessed. Poor Keys never found an opening, despite a powerful first-serve and a generally wicked baseline game.
Giorgi was, in the vernacular of tennis players, “going for her shots.” She couldn’t miss. She was catching Keys’ first serve on the rise and sending them back to her at 120+ MPH . Keys was never in arm’s reach, ultimately losing 6-2, 6-1.
“All credit to her” Keys said afterwards, remaining surprisingly upbeat. “I played as best I could, but there’s just nothing you can do when she’s playing like that.”
Keys also expressed gratitude at the size and energy of the Public Auditorium crowd.
“They were with me until the very last ball,” said Keys. “It is definitely appreciated.”