Taiwan and Poland were locked at 1-1 after the first day of their Fed Cup World Group II playoff on Saturday in Inowroclaw, Poland.
Fed Cup debutant Hsu Ching-wen got the visitors off to the perfect start, recovering from a break down in the first set to claim a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Paula Kania in 1 hour, 16 minutes in the first singles rubber.
The Taiwanese saved two of four break points and converted four of eight, hitting 19 winners on her way to claiming 64 of the 107 points contested to put promotion-seeking Taiwan 1-0 up in the best-of-five tie.
“I was thinking too much,” the 19-year-old Taiwanese told the Fed Cup Web site of her initial wobble.
“I wanted to win fast, but I lose the control,” she said.
“My opponent, she played so well,” world No. 151 Kania said.
“She had an answer for each shot,” Kania added.
Taiwan looked to be heading for a 2-0 first-day lead when Lee Ya-hsuan won the first set of the second singles rubber, but the hosts’ Magdalena Frech rallied to claim a 4-6, 6-0, 6-2 victory in 1 hour, 56 minutes to level the tie at 1-1.
Frech saved two of five break points and converted seven of 14, winning 99 of the 176 points contested.
Asked by the Fed Cup Web site whether she was experiencing anxiety at being a set down, 18-year-old Frech denied feeling nervous.
“I tried to relax, to play my game, and I did, so it’s unbelievable... It’s the best match in my career,” she said.
In yesterday’s reverse singles, Kania was due to take on Lee, before Frech was to face Hsu. In what could be the deciding doubles rubber, Taiwan specialists Chuang Chia-jung and Chan Chin-wei were to play Klaudia Jans-Ignacik and Katarzyna Kawa.
Taiwan skipper Wang Shi-ting said her team possessed the stronger doubles pairing and should her team win at least one of yesterday’s singles rubbers, they would have the better chance of winning the tie.
Poland player-captain Jans-Ignacik was asked how crucial it was for the hosts to win the first reverse singles rubber.
“It would be easier for us if we would win the first one and then would also be easier for Magdalena later on, but I’m not thinking like this. It doesn’t matter — first, second, third [rubbers of the day], we just want to win,” she said.
Fightbacks from Switzerland against holders Czech Republic and France against the Netherlands left the Fed Cup semi-finals on a knife edge on Saturday.
Barbora Strycova got the Czech Republic off to a winning start in Lucerne, demolishing world No. 17 Timea Bacsinszky 6-0, 6-2 in 65 minutes, which left Switzerland facing a tough battle as they bid for a first Fed Cup final appearance since 1998.
However, Viktorija Golubic leveled with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 defeat of Karolina Pliskova to leave the tie wide open at 1-1 ahead of yesterday’s concluding reverse singles and doubles.
In Trelaze, hosts France were trailing after Kiki Bertens saw off Caroline Garcia 6-4, 6-2 in the opening rubber.
Bertens, ranked 96, dominated France’s No. 2 player Garcia, ranked 45, calmly converting her only break point opportunity in the first set.
She increased the pressure in the second to wrap up the tie after 1 hour, 11 minutes at the Arena Loire to notch up her 14th win for just one singles defeat in Fed Cup matches.
Taking a leaf out of the Swiss book, France dug deep and got themselves back level at 1-1 thanks to Kristina Mladenovic’s 6-2, 6-4 win over Richel Hogenkamp.
AFP, BRISBANE, Australia
A below-strength US team booked a place in the Fed Cup World Group in 2017 when Coco Vandeweghe came from a set down to beat Australia’s Samantha Stosur yesterday.
Vandeweghe’s 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 win in the first of the reverse singles gave the visitors an unassailable 3-0 lead in their World Group play-off match at the Pat Rafter Arena in Brisbane.
They later made it a clean sweep when Vandeweghe teamed with Bethanie Mattek-Sands to down Australian pair Daria Gavrilova and Arina Rodionova 6-1, 6-4 in the doubles.
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