Wed, Feb 06, 2013 - Page 20 News List

Hosts provide sternest test for Taiwan Fed Cup team

By Tony Phillips  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei returns to Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia in their Australian Open women’s singles match in Melbourne, Australia, on Jan. 17.

Photo: Reuters

Hosts Kazakhstan are likely to provide the sternest test for Taiwan in their Group 1 Asia/Oceania Fed Cup tie that gets under way in Astana today.

A strong Taiwan lineup featuring Hsieh Su-wei, Chang Kai-chen, Chan Chin-wei and Lee Hua-chen faces teams from China, South Korea and Uzbekistan in Pool B of the round-robin tournament, with Kazakhstan, India and Thailand battling it out in Pool A.

The winners of each pool play off against each other to determine which nation will advance to the World Group II playoffs in April.

Non-playing captain Wang Shi-ting can be confident that Taiwan have a great chance of topping their pool, especially as China are missing top players Li Na, Zheng Jie and Peng Shuai.

Things could get a whole lot harder against the winners of Pool A, though, likely to be Kazakhstan, who as well as enjoying home advantage have world No. 32 Yaroslava Shvedova in their ranks.

The hosts can also call on 73rd-ranked Ksenia Pervak and Galina Voskoboeva, who has slipped to No. 109 in the world, but was inside the top 50 less than a year ago.

Their lowest-ranked player is Sesil Karatantcheva at No. 115, but this still compares favorably with Taiwan’s Chan at No. 261 and Lee at No. 459.

Much will depend on Hsieh and Chang, neither of whom have been in great form of late, but both are capable of giving most opponents a run for their money. Both are also accomplished doubles players, which could prove important in a competition where doubles features prominently.

Only last month, Hsieh and China’s Peng Shuai came within a whisker of defeating eventual champions Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci in the third round of the Australian Open, while Chang has three WTA doubles titles under her belt.

Last year, a team comprising Hsieh, Chang, Chan Yung-jan and Chuang Chia-jung won their opening tie against Uzbekistan, but a loss to China cost them the chance of winning their pool.

The event ended on a positive note, though, with a 2-1 defeat of Thailand earning them third place overall.

China went on to beat Kazakhstan in the final, before losing to Argentina in a World Group II playoff in Buenos Aires in April last year.

Taiwan have twice reached the World Group II playoffs, most recently in 2007, when Hsieh, Chuang, Chan Chin-wei and Chan Yung-jan lost 3-2 on clay in Croatia.

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