Germany's fate was sealed when their top-ranked player, Andrea Petkovic (pictured above), lost to Coco Vandeweghe 3-6, 6-4, 6-0, giving the Americans an unassailable 3-0 lead in the tie.
Things had started out well for Petkovic, who needed to beat Vandeweghe in Hawaii to keep Germany's hopes alive after the Americans had taken a 2-0 lead on Saturday. The German won the first set and was up 4-2 in the second, but lost her way after Vandeweghe was granted an extended medical timeout for a heat-related illness. The American went on to win the next 10 games to move her team onto the second round. Germany, meanwhile, will go into a playoff against an as yet undetermined opponent in an effort to remain in the World Group for another year.
This topped off a tie that got off to a disastrous start on Saturday, when an American soloist sang the version of the German national anthem (Deutschland, Deutschland über alles) that is closely associated with the Nazi era.
"I thought it was the epitome of ignorance, and I've never felt more disrespected in my whole life, let alone in Fed Cup, and I've played Fed Cup for 13 years now and it is the worst thing that has ever happened to me," Petkovic said after losing her first match, to Alison Riske, on Saturday.
On Sunday, Petkovic released a short statement via Twitter in which she acknowledged that the incident had been a mistake and that the US Tennis Association had apologized. She also said she took personal responsibility for the team's defeat.
Things went from bad to worse for Julia Görges, who was in tears during the national anthem. She was unable to finish her rain-disrupted match against Vandeweghe, after she slipped on the wet court. After an initial examination, the team doctor said it looked like knee-ligament damage, but that a precise diagnosis could only be made after she has had the knee scanned back in Germany.
"This was the worst Fed Cup experience - on the most beautiful island," is how Germany's Fed Cup captain, Barbara Rittner summed things up. "But I will still come back here on vacation."
pfd/mp (AFP, SID, dpa)