Saturday, April 20, 2013

FC II Day 1 Update

There was some drama on Saturday, but not nearly as much as there could be on Sunday.

Some Fed Cup notes from Day 1:

-- The two-time defending champion Czechs have their collective backs pressed firmly against the wall after Day 1, as the Italians swept the singles -- both in straight sets -- to take a 2-0 lead on the slow clay surface in Palermo. First, Sara Errani ended Lucie Safarova's four-match FC winning streak, then Roberta Vinci handled Petra Kvitova (5 total games, and 0-8 when it came to holding serve) even more easily than she did in her straight sets win in the Katowice final last weekend. Kvitova had won thirteen of her previous fourteen Fed Cup matches. The Czechs are certainly capable of knotting things up, so a deciding doubles match between Errani/Vinci and Hlavackova/Hradecka could be on the table on Sunday. If so, advantage Italy, as the doubles #1 have won 28 straight clay matches. In other words, the Czechs' "worst case scenario" of things coming down to the doubles is now their "best case scenario." The Czechs needed a 2-0 weekend from Kvitova, and at least one win from Safarova. They won't get it, and their two-year FC reign might be over because of it.

-- Just like the Maidens, the Hordettes are perched on the edge of disaster in Moscow, as Russia finds itself down 2-0 after the veteran Slovak pair of Dominika Cibulkova and Daniela Hantuchova swept the Saturday singles over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Maria Kirilenko, respectively. Cibulkova came back from a set down to take out Pavlyuchenkova in Match #1. Unlike the Czechs, though, it's hard to see the Russians staging a comeback. A similar "B-Team" (minus A-Pav) barely defeated the Japanese in February, winning in the deciding doubles, but they didn't have to dig out of a 0-2 hole with a team that has a combined six FC singles wins against one that now has fifty-six. It seems that it's really just a question of whether we'll have the first-ever Czechs vs. Slovaks final, reuniting the states that formerly combined to form Czechoslovakia. That's probably not likely, either.

-- Serbia and Germany are tied 1-1 in Stuttgart, as Ana Ivanovic held up her end in #1 singles with a three-set win over Mona Barthel in the latter's FC debut. Angelique Kerber defeated Bojana Jovanovski in Match #2. With these match-ups likely flipping on Sunday, it's hard not to smell another deciding doubles match on tap for the drama-loving Serbs. Ummm, Miss Krunic?

-- The Australia/Switzerland tie was obliterated by rain on Saturday, and now will get off to a 9:30 a.m. start on Sunday with the possibility of finishing all matches in one day. Of course, the prospect of two matches in such a short period of time might prove to be a stumbling block for Sam Stosur, still coming back from her calf injury. There's a chance this one could be concluded on Monday.

-- Not shockingly, the Spaniards grabbed the advantage over the Japanese on the red clay in Barcelona, winning a pair of straight set matches to go up 2-0. Carla Suarez-Navarro took out Misaki Doi to start, then Silvia Soler-Espinosa ended Ayumi Morita's 11-match FC winning streak with a dominating 6-2/6-3 victory.

-- In Delray Beach, Sloane Stephens' long-awaited FC singles debut went, umm, about as well as most of her matches have since her semifinal run at the Australian Open. She quickly fell behind Swedish vet Sofia Arvidsson in the 1st set, dropping it 6-4, but then rebounded well by taking the 2nd at 6-4. But after a rain delay, she came back out ice cold (shades of the Vika match in Melbourne), error-plagued and double-fault prone. Stephens was simply outclassed the rest of the way. Arvidsson went up 4-0, as Stephens showed only a few signs of life. When she wasn't able to get a late break in Game #5 (she got to 30/30) that might have swung the momentum and played on Arvidsson's nerves, the match was over in a flash with a 6-1 3rd set. Serena Williams, as expected, handled Johanna Larsson 6-2/6-2 to knot things, but Stephens is going to have to pick things up tomorrow (well, unless MJF makes a switch to Varvara Lepchenko or Venus Williams, that is) if the Bannerettes are going to find a way to avoid going all the way to the doubles with this result still in question.

-- On foreign soil, Agnieszka Radwanska's vow for "revenge" against Belgium is off to a decent start, though it looks like she's going to have to do the heavy lifting. She started the tie with a quick win over Alison Van Uytvanck (giving A-Rad nine straight FC wins w/o dropping a set), but sister Urszula lost Match #2 to Kirsten Flipkens. The Belgian is now just 9-15 in FC singles (and 1-7 in doubles), and will be seeing Aga at least once on Sunday. Be afraid, Kirsten... and look out for more of those 360-degree, backhand flip volleys off net cord shots, too!

-- Marion Bartoli's FC singles debut was nine years in the making, and it's a good thing it happened when it did for the Pastries. Riding an apparent wave of emotion, La Trufflette bageled Galina Voskoboeva in the 1st set of her 6-0/6-3 maiden FC win. But then Alize Cornet blew a one set lead and lost in three to Yaroslava Shvedova as the Kazakhs knotted the tie. Cornet is not 1-9 in her FC singles career. Buckle up, Marion -- it's all on you.

-- No islands are at stake, but the Argentina/Great Britain tie could get sticky before the end of the weekend. As things stand, it's tied at 1-1, with Paula Ormaechea (def. Johanna Konta) and Laura Robson (def. Florencia Molinero) trading off straight set wins. The Ormaechea/Robson match-up on the clay in front of the partisan Argentine crowd might ultimately decide this thing, at least if Ormaechea were to win.

-- Let the Hunger Games begin! All sorts of young players are being asked to step up in the Ukraine/Canada tie. On Saturday, Elina Svitolina and Sharon Fichman did, putting things at 1-1 after Day 1. Svitolina, previously 0-3 in FC play, came back from a set down to defeat Eugenie Bouchard, previously 5-1 in FC play, in Match #1. But Fichman saved Canada's bacon (although, as you know, "Canadian bacon" isn't REALLY bacon) with a three-set win over Lesia Tsurenko. Some real fun and excitingly dramatic matches could be coming in Kiev on Sunday.

**Zone Play**
-- in Europe/Africa Zone II play, Tunisia and Latvia have been promoted at the end of four days of action. Tunisia's Ons Jabeur, 18, was a combined 4-0 in singles play this week, making her 14-2 in her FC career. Meanwhile, 15-year old Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, making her FC debut, was also 4-0 in singles, then combined with Diana Marcinkevica, coming back from a set down to win the deciding doubles match over host nation Montenegro in the Promotional Playoff.

All for now.


Blogger Zidane said...

We have here a concept called "the two solitudes". Canada is made up of two distinct blocks that don't interact and don't care much about each other (Québec and what we call in Québec ROC - for Rest of Canada). To be honest, there is actually and unfortunately a third solitude, with the Native nations.

All this to say, in the full spirit of the two solitudes, I had no knowledge whatsoever of the concept of "Canadian bacon" until an American mentioned it on a tennis blog. Thank you Todd for this "discovery" and Google to let me know what it looks like. Not sure I wanna try it though, it doesn't look tasty.

Sun Apr 21, 01:02:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Haha! Glad to be of service, Zidane. :D

Next thing you know you'll tell me that you've never heard of the candy "Canada Mints," either. Heehee.

(They're pretty tasty, though.) ;)

Sun Apr 21, 01:57:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Zidane said...

What? Really? Is there a Canadian/Canada piece of every imaginable food out there that I don't know about?

I didn't know that one either. At least, movies have taught me about Americans' fascination with Canadian beer!

Sun Apr 21, 02:36:00 PM EDT  

Post a Comment

<< Home