The ITF have announced that Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus and Germany’s Julia Goerges have won the latest Fed Cup Heart Awards of 2017 after putting in impressive performances for their nations in the semifinals and play-offs.
Sasnovich battled to victory on the opening day of the semifinal against Switzerland, giving Belarus the lead with a 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 win over Viktorija Golubic. Then, with the tie locked at 1-1, she defeated Timea Bacsinszky, ranked some 60 places higher, 6-2, 7-6(2) to put Belarus one win away from a first-ever Fed Cup Final.
Sasnovich will receive a cheque for $10,000, which will be donated to her chosen charity.
She said: “This is so unexpected for me as I received such an award last year. For this reason this is even more pleasant for me. I want to say thank you not only to those people who have found time to vote for me, but also to those who have created such a charity project. If this money helps at least one person, I would be so happy.”
Sasnovich was selected for the latest award alongside Aryna Sabalenka (Belarus), CoCo Vandeweghe (USA) and Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA). All four players competed in the World Group semifinals on April 22 and 23.
Goerges defeated Ukrainian No. 1 Elina Svitolina, a Top 10 player, in the opening rubber of the World Group play-off in Stuttgart, battling back from a set and a break down. She then sealed the victory for Germany with a straight-sets win over Lesia Tsurenko, another player higher in the rankings.
Goerges will receive a cheque for $6,000, which will be donated to her chosen charity.
She said: “I would like to thank the ITF for the nomination to the Fed Cup Heart Award. The Fed Cup tie against Ukraine with the German team in front of our home crowd in Stuttgart was a special one. I enjoyed every minute there. Thanks a lot everybody for voting for me to make the award possible. This really means a lot to me.”
Goerges was selected for the latest award alongside Elise Mertens (Belgium), Francoise Abanda (Canada) and Pauline Parmentier (France), all of whom were part of the World Group and World Group II play-offs on 22-23 April.
The players were shortlisted by the Heart Award judging panel, consisting of ITF President David Haggerty and a mixture of former players and members of the international media. A public vote decided the winners.
A total of six Heart Awards have now been presented in 2017. Sasnovich and Goerges follow in the footsteps of Aryna Sabalenka (Belarus), Bianca Andreescu (Canada), Galina Voskoboeva (Kazakhstan) and Heather Watson (Great Britain) who were honoured earlier this year.
ITF President David Haggerty said: “Fed Cup by BNP Paribas creates new heroes in every round, and both players’ fighting qualities and strong team spirit in April were a perfect example of how players can rise to the challenge of representing their country.”
The Fed Cup Heart Award is an ITF initiative that was first presented to USA's Melanie Oudin at the 2009 Fed Cup Final. It aims to recognise players who have represented their country with distinction, shown exceptional courage on court and demonstrated outstanding commitment to their team.