Alison Riske downed Alison 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“The USTA extends a sincere apology to the German Fed Cup team & fans 4 the outdated National Anthem,” the US Tennis Association said in a tweet.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 the first verse of the anthem, which along with the second has not been used 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.