Serena Williams nuzzled her new puppy and chatted with her mom. Venus Williams worked on her serve with Billie Jean King as 14 spectators, including three construction workers in hard hats, watched in awe.
After two riveting weeks in the U.S. Open, the Williams sisters finally were able to relax. And that easy living should continue this weekend as they lead the United States against an overmatched Russian squad in the Fed Cup final.
The United States team coached by King includes four of the top five players in the world and is so strong that Serena Williams, coming off her U.S. Open title, won't play singles. Monica Seles, ranked fifth, has been relegated to cheerleading duties.
Russia is missing its top-ranked player, No. 15 Anna Kournikova. The team's most successful player in Fed Cup, Larisa Neiland, now plays for Latvia.
"I think we want to win, but it's not life or death," Russia's Elena Likhovtseva said.
Venus Williams, ranked third, will face No. 17 Likhovtseva in tonight's first match (10:30, ESPN 2). No. 2 Lindsay Davenport will play No. 68 Elena Dementieva, making her Fed Cup singles debut, in the other match.
On Sunday, Davenport plays Likhovtseva in the third match of the best-of-five event. Venus Williams faces Dementieva in the final singles match, and then the Williams sisters play Dementieva and Elena Makarova in doubles.
Around the nets
In Bournemouth, England, top-seeded Thomas Enqvist of Sweden reached today's semifinals of the Samsung Open clay-court tournament with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Karim Alami of Morocco. He will play fifth-seeded Stefan Koubek, who defeated Magnus Gustafsson, 6-3, 6-2.
Romanian Adrian Voinea outlasted Marc-Kevin Goellner of Germamy, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2, and will play No. 3 Younes El Aynaoui in the other semifinal. El Aynaoui advanced when German Hendrik Dreekman withdrew before their match with a thigh injury.
In Palma de Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Slovak Dominik Hrbaty was the only non-Spaniard to make it to today's semifinals of the $500,000 ATP Tour Mallorca Open clay-court tournament. The fourth-seeded Hrbaty beat Austria's Markus Hipfl, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, to set up a match against No. 2 Alex Corretja, a 6-3, 6-2 winner over Argentine Hernan Gumy. Julian Alonso eliminated Costa Rican Juan Antonio Marin, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5, to advance to the other semifinal against 19-year-old Juan Carlos Ferrero, who ousted fifth-seeded Francisco Clavet, 6-0, 6-3.