Los Angeles: Alison Riske downed Andrea Petkovic to give the United States a 1-0 lead in their Fed Cup tie with Germany, which got off to an awkward start Saturday thanks to a gaffe involving the German national anthem.
"The USTA extends a sincere apology to the German Fed Cup team & fans 4 the outdated National Anthem," the US Tennis Association said in a tweet. "This mistake will not occur again."
The apology came after a singer performed a verse of the anthem that dates back to World War II and which has been officially eliminated as part of the anthem since the fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification in 1990.
The German players and coaches and a small but vocal contingent of German fans were clearly uncomfortable. Some spectators sang the correct version of the anthem.
Once things were underway in gusty winds and intermittent rain, both Riske and Petkovic struggled to get into a groove. But Riske gradually gained in confidence en route to her 7-6 (12/10), 6-2 triumph over the experienced German, who arrived in Hawaii with 12 Fed Cup singles wins on her resume.
After roaring to a 5-0 lead in the second set, Riske fought through a tense spell to seal the victory after one hour and 40 minutes, and give a leg up to surprise Australian Open semi-finalist Coco Vandeweghe, who was to take on Julia Goerges in the second singles.
Petkovic's fourth double fault of the match took the final game to deuce, and Riske pounced for the victory.
The tight first set saw the players exchange four breaks of serve before an equally tense tiebreaker.
Riske had the first chance to put it away, but Petkovic made it 6-6 with a service winner.
The German had her first chance against Riske's serve, and the American produced a volley winner to make it 7-7. Riske had two more set points and Petkovic one -- which she squandered with a double-fault -- before Riske wrapped it up when Petkovic belted a forehand into the net.
No sooner had the first set ended after 65 minutes than rain began for the second time and the players left the court, resuming after the second brief delay of the match.
The winner of the tie will face either the defending champion Czech Republic or Spain, who were level at 1-1 after day one in Ostrava.
The United States own a record 17 Fed Cup titles, but haven't won the nations tournament since 2000.
For this tie they are without Serena and Venus Williams, while Germany is missing Angelique Kerber -- who surrendered the world number one ranking to Serena when the American beat her sister Venus in the Australian Open final.
Bacsinszky beats wasp sting as Fed Cup hots up
Switzerland's Timea Bacsinszky overcame being stung by a wasp to beat French rival Alize Cornet in the Fed Cup as three of the four World Group ties ended all-square on Saturday.
The Swiss were 1-1 against France in Geneva while defending champions the Czech Republic also split the opening rubbers with Spain in Ostrava as did top-flight debutants Belarus against the Netherlands in Minsk.
Bacsinszky downed Cornet 7-5, 6-4 but only after needing treatment when she was stung on her arm by a wasp at 3-3 in the first set of the clash at Geneva's Palexpo arena.
The Swiss number one immediately dunked her left elbow in a courtside bucket of water before leaving the court for further treatment on the sting.
When she returned, she broke Cornet's serve before going on to secure eventual victory on a fourth match point.
"Who would have thought that we would have wasps in Switzerland in February," said Bacsinszky, the world number 16.
"It hurt a lot but maybe it will give me super powers on Sunday."
She added: "The last time I got stung was a long time ago, and I ended up in hospital, so I had a little panic today."
France, the runners-up to the Czechs last season, eventually levelled the quarter-final when 23rd-ranked Kristina Mladenovic eased past her best friend Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-4.
The reverse singles and doubles take place on Sunday with the eventual winners to face either Belarus or the Dutch for a place in the final.
The Czechs were tied 1-1 with Spain after number-one players Karolina Pliskova and Garbine Muguruza won their opening rubbers.
World number seven Muguruza, the French Open champion, beat 17th-ranked Barbora Strycova 6-0, 3-6, 6-1 before third-ranked Pliskova levelled the tie after seeing off world number 70 Lara Arruabarrena 6-4, 7-5.
The Czechs are seeking their fourth straight Fed Cup title after winning five of the last six editions of the team competition. Spain last won the trophy in 1998.
The home side are without 12th-ranked two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova who is recovering from a hand injury she suffered when fighting a knife-wielding burglar last December.
The winners of the tie will face either 17-time champions United States or Germany who are playing in Hawaii.
The US are missing Serena and Venus Williams as well as the injured Madison Keys while Germany are without Angelique Kerber.
Kiki Bertens rallied from a set down to beat Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, drawing the Dutch level at 1-1 in Minsk.
World number 24 Bertens won 3-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-4 in her first ever meeting with the 18-year-old Belarusian.
Earlier, Aliaksandra Sasnovich, ranked 128th, put Belarus into the lead as she battled back from a set down to beat Michaella Krajicek 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Published Date: Feb 12, 2017 10:44 am | Updated Date: Feb 12, 2017 10:44 am