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Fed Cup: It's like the 1980 Winter Olympics all over again!

Back then, the U.S. beat Russia in hockey in the famous "Miracle on Ice" game. Thirty years later, there's a new parallel to that with the U.S. Fed Cup team beating heavily favored Russia to advance to the finals of the competition.

On paper, the U.S. should've been hard-pressed to win one rubber, much less the whole tie. But I have to tell you, the job Mary Joe Fernandez has been doing the past two years is nothing short of remarkable, especially with nary a Williams sister in sight. She's taking a group of young players (such as Melanie Oudin) and mixing them with veterans (like Liezel Huber) and getting it done.

Nearly every tie, whether home or away, the U.S. team is the underdog. But MJ is following a great formula for winning in team competition: Split the singles and win the doubles. That's easier said than done, but it seems to be working.

I have to admit, before last year, I wasn't much of a Fed Cup fan. Actually, "wasn't much" might be a wee bit of an understatement: I wasn't a fan at all, which is funny because I can't get enough of Davis Cup. But the chance to witness Team USA doing its thing has been great, and I almost can't get enough of Fed Cup now.

This is a story all sports fans should get behind. It's like if the New York Yankees were to win without its high-priced lineup or the Chicago Bulls winning without Michael Jordan or the Colts without Peyton Manning. You go with backups and do enough coaching to have those players ready to run through a brick wall for you. And Team USA has been running through a lot of them.

So, to sum this all up, I love the U.S. Fed Cup team! And if you haven't been following it yet, be sure to catch the finals against Italy. Beating the Italians would really be a miracle, but one has been accomplished with the win over Russia, so why not another?

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Comment by Sharapovanovic on April 27, 2010 at 11:00pm
I don't want to rain on the well-deserved parade of Oudin and Co., but one should remember that they faced a Russian team much, much weaker than what that nation can muster. Not only did Tarpischev come with only three players but two of those players had accomplished even less in the competition than had the Americans. So the task of toppling Russia was not as formidable as if Kuznetsova, Dementieva, Petrova, and Zvonareva (for example) had traveled to the U.S. While Russia was favored to win both of Dementieva's singles, the Americans were just as favored to win the Oudin-Kudryavtseva match and the doubles match. Consequently, the weekend came down to the fourth rubber between Mattek-Sands and Makarova; although Makarova was the higher-ranked player, I don't think that anyone was really shocked to see the American prevail on her home court over an opponent who had never won a live rubber in the competition.

Again, I don't want to detract from the accomplishment of an incredible group of competitors, just to point out that the playing field was less uneven than one might have thought at first glance.

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