Sun, Apr 21, 2019 - Page 11 News List

Australia, Belarus level after Day 1 of semi

Reuters, SYDNEY

Victoria Azarenka of Belarus returns to Ashleigh Barty of Australia in the first round of their Fed Cup semi-final in Brisbane, Australia, yesterday.

Photo: AFP

World No. 9 Ashleigh Barty yesterday kept alive Australia’s hopes of advancing to their first Fed Cup final in 26 years when she beat former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in the second singles of the tie against Belarus in Brisbane, Australia.

Barty had some trouble in the first set against the two-time Australian Open champion and saved three break points at 5-5 to go on to win 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 and level the tie at 1-1.

Aryna Sabalenka earlier gave Belarus a strong start to the tie when she beat former US Open champion Sam Stosur 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 in 2 hours, 47 minutes.

“I knew the first set would be key,” Barty said of her match against her doubles partner. “I dug myself into a hole in that 5-5 game, but I went back to what I do well and got out of it.”

“For me it was just about me coming out and doing every thing right. I prepared really well all week,” she added.

World No. 10 Sabalenka looked completely out of sorts in the first two sets against Stosur, with both players struggling to hold serve.

However, Sabalenka turned up her power game in the third and after establishing a 4-1 lead blew her first match-point opportunity in the eighth game on Stosur’s serve, when she blasted a backhand volley wide with the court open.

She raced out to a 40-0 lead in the next game, and while Stosur saved her second match point, the Australian sent a backhand long on the next point that gave Belarus a 1-0 lead.

“It was an unbelievable match,” Sabalenka said. “She played so quick, I couldn’t touch the ball on her returns. You must fight for each point.”

“I’m happy to have handled her level today,” she added.

Australia captain Alicia Molik praised Stosur’s performance, but also hinted that she might change her lineup for the reverse singles today, depending on how the 35-year-old recovers.

Australia are attempting to reach their first Fed Cup final since 1993. They have not won the title since 1974.

Belarus were beaten 3-2 by the US in their only Fed Cup final appearance in Minsk in 2017.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top