Monday, 13 February 2017

Pliskova stars in Spanish Czech Mate

The WTA Tour took a back seat to Fed Cup action, and while the top two world ranked players were missing from the USA v Germany tie, it was great to see the Czech Republic and Spain have world number three and 2016 US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova and 2016 Roland Garros champion Garbine Muguruza turn up for their respective teams. 

Once again it was Pliskova who starred in this first round tie, proving a class or two too much for Spain's Lara Arruabarrena in the second match, following Muguruza's strange three set victory over Barbora Strycova 6-0 3-6 6-1.  Garbine must have wandered off somewhere in Ostrava for part of set two, but she was amazing for the rest of the match.

The key to the tie was match three, and Pliskova brought the visiting Muguruza crashing back to earth with a 6-2 6-2 whipping.  Strycova put the issue beyond doubt with another straight sets win at the expense of Arruabarrena,  and the doubles at the end was important only for bragging rights.

Other World Group first round results included the USA's whitewash of Germany, spearheaded by Aus Open semi finalist Coco Vandeweghe, and with great support from Alison Riske.
The semi final against the Czech Republic will be a tougher test.

Belarus easily accounted for the Netherlands 4-1, half those wins to wold number 128 Aliaksandra Sasnovich, whose Fed Cup record is now 11/7.
Semi final opponent for Belarus will be Switzerland, who had a similarly easy result over France, at least on the scoreboard.

After an even start, with Timea Bacsinszky defeating Alize Cornet and Kristina Mladenovic bringing France back by knocking over Belinda Bencic.
Bacsinszky won the key third match over Mladenovic and it was worthy of being the headline act.  For over 3 and a quarter hours the girls battled, 71 winners delivered between the two.
Mladenovic created 14 break opportunities to only 6 by Bacsinszky.  However both players converted three.  The first set tie break, won by Timea, ended up being the deciding factor, as the rest of the match was an even split.

Leading 2-1, the momentum drove Switzerland to a 4-1 result, but a Mladenovic victory in the third match could have changed things dramatically.

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