Thursday, February 08, 2018

Fed Cup I Preview: Let the Games Begin

Well, it's time to unwrap our first helping of Fed Cup-related treats in 2018.

Hmmm, let's see. For our first course, the top items on the menu include Act One of Year II of "In Rinaldi We Trust" (with a little Williams zest), as well as the return of the Czech Maidens. Also on deck, the Belarusians are tasked with proving that 2017 was no Cinderella run, but actually an "opening act." At the same time, Pastries will face off with Waffles, while Captaina Myskina will once again try to compete without any of Russia's biggest-named Hordettes. The Spanish welcome a new Captain, the Simona-less Romanians look to swarm the Canadians (again, but this time without you-know-who) and the Aussies attempt to overcome their longtime home woes on the hoped-for safe haven that is the grass of Canberra.

Of course, we can't promise anything as wondrous as this...

But, hey, it's Fed Cup. You never know what might happen.

Let's take a closer look...

*WORLD GROUP 1st Round*

Germany at Belarus (Minsk, BLR - HCI)
BLR: Sasnovich,Sabalenka,Lapko,Marozava (Capt: Eduard Dubrou)
GER: Maria,Lottner,Friedsam,Groenefeld (Capt: Jens Gerlach) year after their maiden run to a Fed Cup final began in Minsk with a win over the Dutch (2016's Cinderella squad), Team BLR returns home as the decided favorites against a (mostly) veteran German "B"-team (w/ a first-year captain) that will likely have a difficult weekend inside the belly of the Belarusian beast. Can Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Aryna Sabalenka & Co. do it again in 2018? A possible semifinal match-up with a fully-loaded Czech team notwithstanding, few squads have an equally dedicated one-two punch on this side of the '18 draw. The never-say-die Sasnovich (14-8 FC singles) was 5-1 in FC play last year, while the excitable Sabalenka went 1-1 in all three ties in Minsk (and pushed big-named opponents in her losses). It'd be a surprise to see either lose this weekend. The most experienced player on the German side (Anna-Lena Groenefeld) is there for doubles duty, while the only other roster member with a singles win in FC play is Tatjana Maria (4-3), who's coming off being upset last week by Russian youngster Anastasia Potapova in Saint Petersburg.
PICK: BLR def. GER 4-0
...this could have been a wild tie if the German team included at least one of its Top 10 talents (Kerber & Goerges), but it'll likely be an all-weekend, Belarusian-themed parade in Minsk. If Belarus could somehow return to another final in a rematch with the U.S. (which *is* possible with the Bannerettes on the other side of the draw), it'd be held this time around on U.S. soil, meaning Vika Azarenka (no matter where her custody battle stands come the fall) would likely be cleared to join the effort. That possibility is still a long way off, but the first step toward it begins here.

Switzerland at Czech Republic (Prague, CZE - HCI)
CZE: Kvitova,Ka.Pliskova,Strycova,Safarova (Capt: Petr Pala)
SUI: Bacsinszky,Bencic,Golubic,Teichmann (Capt: Heinz Gunthardt)
...they're baaaaack. Or at least it would seem that way, with the Czech "A"-team gathering together in Prague after (mostly) taking '17 off following three straight title runs (and five in six years) in FC play. Petra Kvitova, once again playing under a roof, blasted through the competition last week in Saint Petersburg, and will be called upon to re-assume her old leadership role this weekend. Of note (or maybe not), Kvitova (26-10) is riding a hard-to-believe four-match FC losing streak (one in '15, and 0-3 in '16), but the other three members of the Czech team -- Ka.Pliskova (9-3), Strycova (9-7) and Safarova (13-11) -- have taken their turns in pressure roles during the Czech dynasty, and should have her back if she stumbles. Timea Bacsinszky (20-16) has returned from a six-month absence due to a hand injury, losing her opening match last week to Elena Rybakina but then rebounding to win a doubles title. Belinda Bencic (7-2) came into '18 as the hottest player in the game, but hasn't played since she lost her 2nd Round match in Melbourne after taking out Venus Williams in the 1st. Viktoriya Golubic defeated both Pliskova and Strycova in what was ultimately a lost tie vs. the Czechs in 2016, and could once again find herself in a do-or-die Day 2 match this time around should Bacsinszky's singles form be wanting. That 3-2 semifinal defeat, which gave CZE a 6-1 head-to-head edge in FC play over Swizterland, may have been the Swiss women's best chance at a title season, as they were Belarus' SF upset victim a year ago when the Czechs took a step back. If they'd found themselves in a rematch with BLR in the top half's other QF match-up, the Swiss might have been able to find a way back to the semis. Doing the same against this Czech squad, though, is quite another, far more difficult task.
PICK: CZE def. SUI 3-1
...based on Kvitova's SuperPetra form in Saint Petrasburg, the stacked roster and home court advantage things don't look good for the Swiss. But Bencic and Golubic have proven to be great underdog FC performers in the past, so making the (rusty?) Czech team work and forcing a deciding doubles match (where *anything* could happen) isn't out of the question. Even in their dominant FC campaigns, it should be noted, the Czechs were forced to go to the doubles seven times in fifteen ties during their five title-winning seasons since 2011 (including the final four in 2015-16). But after a year out of the FC title chase, one expects the Maidens to show up ready to wipe the court with *someone*. The Swiss just happened to draw the short straw (or, in this case, the chocolate egg with the ripped-open wrapper).

At least they had some fun during the week, though...

Belgium at France (La Roch-sur-yon, FRA - HCI)
FRA: Mladenovic,Parmentier,Hesse,Burel (Capt: Yannick Noah)
BEL: Mertens,Flipkens,Van Uytvanck,Bonaventure (Capt: Dominique Monami)
...two years ago, the French FC team rode a wave of emotion all the way to the final. Now, for the second straight year, it's without former Captain Amelie Mauresmo and the player who lit the '16 path with gutsy wins (Caroline Garcia). The FFT's play-or-else threats have failed to gather in such young talent as Oceane Dodin, and the Pastries now find themselves fighting an uphill battle to return to contention. Facing suspension for missing multiple drug tests, even Alize Cornet is on the sidelines for this one (not that she's ever really contributed much good to past French FC efforts). The good news for the French is that they have a home tie, and Kiki Mladenovic's final run in Saint Petersburg finally ended a personal losing streak that reached fifteen matches. Her head-to-head battle with Belgium's Elise Mertens (in both singles and, maybe, doubles) will likely determine which nation advances to the semis. AO semifinalist Mertens, already a singles and doubles title winner in '18, may need to contribute to three wins in order for the Waffles' seven-tie win streak to continue. She's 3-0 in singles in her FC career, and the Belgians are in the World Group for the first time since 2012. Veteran Kirsten Flipkens (12-19 singles, 1-9 doubles), though, could turn out to the be the key to a winning weekend. If she can get a singles win to either clinch the tie or send it to the doubles, where she'd likely be called upon to join Bertens vs. Mladenovic and Pauline Parmentier, she might be MVP-worthy. She's already provided Mertens with some assistance in recent months...

PICK: FRA def. BEL 3-2 BEL def. FRA 3-2
...I've gone back and forth on this pick, with only the tie going to the doubles being a consistent theme. Can Mertens take out Mladenovic on French soil, and if she can't can Flipkens (or Van Uytvanck) step in to get a singles win to make up for it? For the French, though, it would seem to all be on Mladenovic's shoulders. Kiki will surely feed off the crowd and *try* to put the team on her back. She very well may do it, too. But that fact remains that she has a 6-6 career FC mark in singles, including going 5-4 the last two years (with losses to Giorgi, Bertens, Bacsinszky and, in a 16-14 3rd set, Ka.Pliskova), though she teamed brilliantly with former RG title-winning partner Garcia in doubles during the glorious '16 run. Without Mauresmo, this isn't really a "team" so much as a group with one large personality trying to prove that she *can* drag Team FRA to a win all by herself (she couldn't vs. SUI last year, but did vs. a depleted ESP team to keep France in the WG). Her loss in the Saint Petersburg final left Mladenovic with a 1-7 career record in singles finals, and maybe just enough lingering doubt to allow Mertens a shot to get the win in their head-to-head despite the home court advantage. Still, I kind of look at this one as a coin-flipper. Momentum could shift it either way, at any time. It's likely the only World Group tie immune to a possible blow-out final score.

Netherland at United States (Asheville, NC, USA - HCI)
USA: V.Williams,S.Williams,Vandeweghe,Davis (Capt: Kathy Rinaldi)
NED: Hogenkamp,Rus,Kerkhove,Schuurs (Capt: Paul Haarhuis)
...Captain Rinaldi was Fed Cup's official "Ms. Opportunity" in 2017, stepping into the shoes of the wayward former stewardship of Mary Joe Fernandez and dotting every "i" and crossing every "t" while immediately establishing an esprit de corps amongst a tight-knit group that included CoCo Vandeweghe, who set a FC record with an 8-0 mark in live matches as the team took advantage of a Czech "A"-team less field and battled to the U.S.'s first title since 2000. In Year 2 of "In Rinaldi We Trust," the Bannerettes have called in the reinforcements with Olympic eligibility there for the taking for 2020. Venus (19-2 career) and Serena Williams (making her official, post-pregnancy return in her first match since the '17 AO) are on board, with Vandeweghe assuming (one assumes) a complementary role coming off her recent illness. With the Dutch squad missing Kiki Bertens, this feels like a mismatch, even with the U.S. team sporting a combined 2-6 record in 2018, with only Lauren Davis having notched a win this season. *Her* last match was the marathon loss to Simona Halep in Melbourne in which she held triple MP, enough to convince the always-watching Rinaldi to tap her for inclusion in this tie. The Netherlands' 2016 semifinal run was one of the more spirited surprises in FC history, but pulling off the upset here would surely give it a run for its money.
PICK: USA def. NED 4-0's hard to imagine Rinaldi *not* upping her record as Captain to 4-0, not with this squad. The Dutch haven't faced the Bannerettes since 1998 (before either Sister had won *any* of their combined thirty slams singles crowns), and might wish they don't see them before 2038 when it's all over.

Captain Rinaldi... preparing for Fed Cup 2030?


Russia at Slovakia (Bratislava, SVK - HCI)
SVK: Rybarikova,Cepelova,Kuzmova,AK.Schmiedlova (Capt: Matej Liptak)
RUS: Vikhlyantseva,Kalinskaya,Potapova,Kudermetova (Capt: Anastasia Myskina)
...Myskina has to be wondering what she's done to deserve fielding such inexperienced rosters in recent years, and not even with the same players each time out that she could mold into something of a solid, consistent unit, either. Of course, for all she did as a player in Fed Cup, many of the Czarina/Captaina Myskina's moves in recent years in the heat of battle have been questionable enough to make even the likes of MJF shudder. So maybe playing with one hand tied behind her back is just what she deserves? (Just a wild Tennis God-related theory.) The good news/bad news for Myskina is that she won't be tempted to continue to try to play mentor by overusing her unreliable namesake (Pavlyuchenkova) this time around, though she might wish she had the option. The entire Russian roster has combined for one FC singles victory (by Vikhlyantseva). Recent Slovak squads, as with the Russians, have been remarkably fluid. Wimbledon semifinalist Rybarikova heads the team this time, as Slovakia seeks to knock off the Hordettes for the first time. Russia leads the all-time series 3-0, including a rare win from 0-2 down in 2013.
PICK: SVK def. RUS 4-1 this point, it's difficult to believe that just a few years ago the Russians hadn't fallen down to the WG II level for eighteen years Now they seem destined to never leave. One wonders if SVK's FC future might include a healthy dose of teenager Viktoria Kuzmova, who makes her debut this weekend. She may not get into the action in Bratislava, but she's fresh off a Q-run in Saint Petersburg and a near upset of another Hordette, Dasha Kasatkina, and Captain Liptak should make it a priority to get the big-hitter's feet wet in a tie in which they're favored.

Ukraine at Australia (Canberra, AUS - Grass)
AUS: Barty,Gavrilova,Aiava,Dellacqua (Capt: Alicia Molik)
UKR: Kostyuk,L.Kichenok,N.Kichenok,Lopatetskaya (Capt: Mikhail Filima)
...could it be that the Aussies have finally stumbled into a Fed Cup *advantage* on Australian soil? Often, home isn't where the heart is for Team Australia come FC time, but staging a tie on grass with the likes of former Wimbledon girls champ Ash Barty heading the roster (and her doubles partner waiting in the wings, if needed) is likely as good as it's going to get. Facing a team of inexperienced Ukrainians -- not including the likes of a Svitolina or Tsurenko, who defeated the Aussies 3-1 last February, no less -- helps, too. All seems good for the home team, unless 15-year old Marta Kostyuk (in the *lead* spot for Ukraine) continues her recent Down Under run that has already included an AO Q-run and 3rd Round result, then a challenger tournament win last weekend.

PICK: AUS def. UKR 4-1
...Dasha Lopatetskaya, at 14, is actually the *youngest* player on the UKR roster, as well as the entire FC competition this weekend, so Kostyuk's sudden push into such a "leadership" role is even more eyebrow-raising. The thought on the "1" in the scoreline is that Kostyuk will get a dead rubber win (in doubles, or maybe singles vs. fellow teen Aiava?) to notch her maiden FC win.

Canada at Romania (Cluj-Napoca, ROU - HCI)
ROU:Halep,Begu,Cirstea,Bogdan,Olaru (Capt: Florin Segarceanu)
CAN: Zhao,Andreescu,Sebov,Dabrowski (Capt: Silvain Bruneau)
...ah, they meet again. Of course, the third FC meeting between Romania and Canada won't come equipped with the sort of dramatic/comedic sideshow that Genie Bouchard helped instigate in 2015, when she made headlines by stating her disinclination to shake hands with her opponents, then saw Alexandra Dulgheru (also absent this weekend) mock the notion with a series of "let's-shake...psych!" non-handshakes with her teammates after defeating the Canadian in Montreal. A few years ago, the Romanians seemed destined to contend for a Fed Cup crown. They came oh-so-close, pushing the Czechs to the deciding doubles in the 1st Round two years ago. Now, with a loaded roster (even w/o Monica Niculescu and, in a late withdrawal, Simona Halep) in front of a partisan (as if there is any other kind) Romanian crowd, this could be the first step toward one final run with this generation of Swarmettes. One interesting aspect of this tie is the presence of Bianca Andreescu. The 17-year old, of Romanian descent, may be the most promising of all the young Canadians. A year ago, she went a combined 7-1 in FC play (5-1 singles, 2-0 doubles...with her only loss a near-upset of Yulia Putintseva in a three-setter). The player she said was her favorite a few years ago? Why, Halep, of course. She now won't face her for the first time this weekend, but she'll surely want to impress her idol.

PICK: ROU def. CAN 4-1
...this week's ruling finally officially made it so that former FC Captain Ilie Nastase won't be holding any official posts until after 2020 following his classless display during the entire week (and even during play) on site (until he was ushered off, that is) at last spring's tie vs. Great Britain. Even without Halep, the Romanians should roll, but Andreescu might just make things interesting in one, of not both, of her singles matches.

Spain at Italy (Chieti, ITA - RCI)
ITA: Errani,Paolini,Chiesa,Cocciaretto (Capt: Tathiana Garbin)
ESP: Suarez-Navarro,Arruabarrena,Garcia Perez,Martinez Sanchez (Capt: Anabel Medina-Garrigues) much longer will the last traces of Italy's Fed Cup glory days (come on, The FC Quartet of Pennetta, Schiavone, Errani & Vinci *would* be a worthy HOF combo entry, right?) linger? With Vinci set to retire in the spring, Schiavone likely not long for the tour, Errani decidedly on the back side of her career, and Camila Giorgi possibly *never* set to play for her nation again in FC play, once Italy totally slips out of the picture it may be a full generation before it returns. Having lost three of four ties over the past two years, the fall, which the Italians have managing to fight off a bit longer than expected, could finally officially come in 2018. Hosting a Garbi-less, but still dangerous, Spanish team could have the Italians fighting to avoid relegation from WG II come the spring. A win over Taiwan in 2017 prevented the dreaded moment from coming last year, but it likely only delayed the inevitable.
PICK: ESP def. ITA 3-2 Spanish Captain Medina-Garrigues (she was 7-1 in her singles career vs. ITA Captain Tathiana Garbin, for what it's worth) might have a "little engine that could" on her hands. CSN still has gas left in the tank, Arruabarrena is a good FC team player and recent junior champ Rebeka Masarova recently announced her change of allegiance from Switzerland to Spain. Based on the success of her brief coaching stint with Alona Ostapenko in '17, AMG showed some signs of maybe having a little bit of Amelie Mauresmo-esque whispering qualities about her. If she could get a win here, then get Muguruza back on board for a spring tie, Spain could be set up for a legitimate shot at FC title contention in 2019-20 after what has now grown into a ten-year final drought.

Zone play has been going on at various sites the last few days, so I can't really preview anything there. But I can still make picks! They may not turn out to be good ones, but I can still MAKE them.

Americas I (Asuncion, Paraguay - RCO)
...Beatriz Haddad Maia could successfully put Brazil on her back, but the host Paraguayan team has a one-two punch of Veronica Cepede Royg *and* Montserrat Gonzalez. Possible Team to Watch: Chile?

Asia/Oceania I (New Delhi, India - HCO)
...though it's never all that smart to expect much from the Kazakhs, is it? Possible Team to Watch: Thailand

Asia/Oceania II (Isa Town, Bahrain - HCO)
UZB def. Pacific Oceania, PHI def. INA
...Possible Team to Watch: New Zealand, which included Week 5 ITF challenger title-winner Erin Routliffe, a former Canadian and two-time NCAA doubles champion with the University of Alabama.

Europe/Africa I (Tallinn, Estonia - HCI)
...we've already seen a stunner in round robin play, as Cagla Buyukakcay upset Alona Ostapenko, but Anastasija Sevastova stopped the bleeding with a singles win, and they combined to take the doubles for a 2-1 win over Turkey. So I don't have to change my original pick.

LAT def. SRB, GBR def. SWE
...Possible Team to Watch: the host Estonians, led by Anett Kontaveit. Meanwhile, the Brits won the pre-tie team photo contest.

Of course, I'll have a full wrap-up of the entire Fed Cup event in the regular weekly post following all the weekend action, as well as the full "Fed Cup Captain Threat Level Chart."

1963 United States def. Australia 2-1
1964 Australia def. United States 2-1
1965 Australia def. United States 2-1
1966 United States def. West Germany 3-0
1967 United States def. Great Britain 2-0
1968 Australia def. Netherlands 3-0
1969 United States def. Australia 2-1
1970 Australia def. West Germany 3-0
1971 Australia def. Great Britain 3-0
1972 South Africa def. Great Britain 2-1
1973 Australia def. South Africa 3-0
1974 Australia def. United States 2-1
1975 Czechoslovakia def. Australia 3-0
1976 United States def. Australia 2-1
1977 United States def. Australia 2-1
1978 United States def. Australia 2-1
1979 United States def. Australia 3-0
1980 United States def. Australia 3-0
1981 United States def. Great Britain 3-0
1982 United States def. West Germany 3-0
1983 Czechoslovakia def. West Germany 2-1
1984 Czechoslovakia def. Australia 2-1
1985 Czechoslovakia def. United States 2-1
1986 United States def. Czechoslovakia 3-0
1987 West Germany def. United States 2-1
1988 Czechoslovakia def. USSR 2-1
1989 United States def. Spain 3-0
1990 United States def. USSR 2-1
1991 Spain def. United States 2-1
1992 Germany def. Spain 2-1
1993 Spain def. Australia 3-0
1994 Spain def. United States 3-0
1995 Spain def. United States 3-2
1996 United States def. Spain 5-0
1997 France def. Netherlands 4-1
1998 Spain def. Switzerland 3-2
1999 United States def. Russia 4-1
2000 United States def. Spain 5-0
2001 Belgium def. Russia 2-1
2002 Slovak Republic def. Spain 3-1
2003 France def. United States 4-1
2004 Russia def. France 3-2
2005 Russia def. France 3-2
2006 Italy def. Belgium 3-2
2007 Russia def. Italy 4-0
2008 Russia def. Spain 4-0
2009 Italy def. United States 4-0
2010 Italy def. United States 3-1
2011 Czech Republic def. Russia 3-2
2012 Czech Republic def. Serbia 3-1
2013 Italy def. Russia 4-0
2014 Czech Republic def. Germany 3-1
2015 Czech Republic def. Russia 3-2
2016 Czech Republic def. France 3-2
2017 United States def. Belarus 3-2

18 - United States
10 - Czech Republic/Czechoslovakia
7 - Australia
5 - Spain
4 - Italy
4 - Russia
2 - France
2 - West Germany/Germany
1 - Belgium
1 - Slovakia
1 - South Africa

2005 Elena Dementieva, RUS
2006 Francesca Schiavone, ITA
2007 Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
2008 Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
2009 Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2010 Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2011 Petra Kvitova, CZE
2012 Petra Kvitova, CZE
2013 Roberta Vinci, ITA
2014 Petra Kvitova, CZE
2015 Karolina Pliskova, CZE
2016 Caroline Garcia, FRA*
2017 CoCo Vandeweghe, USA
*-non-championship team member

2005 Elena Dementieva, RUS
2006 Francesca Schiavone, ITA
2007 Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
2008 Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
2009 Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2010 Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2011 Petra Kvitova, CZE
2012 Lucie Safarova, CZE
2013 Roberta Vinci, ITA
2014 Petra Kvitova, CZE
2015 Karolina Pliskova, CZE
2016 Barbora Strycova, CZE
2017 CoCo Vandeweghe, USA

All for now.


Blogger colt13 said...

Switzerland's Olympic game was fun.

2018 Fed Cup

Belarus is the clear favorite, but with comes some pressure. When your #2 is clearly better than anybody on the other side, you can't have a lapse. So Sabalenka is the pick, as Sasnovich is expected to go 2-0.

Obviously, the Czechs have a good thing going. When your #4(Safarova) could be other teams #1, and that just isn't just hyperbole, in the tie above, there isn't anyone ranked as high. But Timea is the important pick here, as the Swiss have the problem of having two talented, but oft-injured players that have to play twice. Better her than Bencic. Either way, an uphill battle vs the machine that are the Czechs.

Belgium is a big favorite here, the only road team in WG that should be. If Mladenovic brings last week's from, it might delay the inevitable, but Belgium is built well. Mertens is worthy of being a #1, and I would put Van Uytvanck vs Parmientier on day 1, then save the vet Flipkens for day 2. Either way, they have more depth.

Hmmm, 1992 Dream Team vs Angola, or 2018 Fed Cup Team vs Netherlands? It actually won't be that bad, as Serena has a habit of dropping sets to people she has never played in Fed Cup, and you almost feel as though Venus, Serena, and Coco are almost using this as a tuneup to get back on track. So don't be shocked by 6-3 or 6-4 sets, but be shocked if they lose a match. If they do, it will be to Rus, who even while struggling on the main tour, has shown up for Fed Cup.

Sometimes you go simple and say that the team with the best player wins. That is SVK, because of Rybarikova. Russia is in a bad spot because as much as I like her for the future, Potopova isn't ready yet, and if she has to play, that means that somebody flamed out.

This may be the best tie, because this possibly could go off the rails. The bizarre thing is that I am getting what I want-a tie on grass, but it isn't as advantageous as it would have been against another country. Svitolina was Wimbledon RU in Juniors. But she isn't here, which brings up 2 things. One that that a 15 yr old should not be your #1. I was hoping she would be the hitting partner here, but no such luck. Probably 1-1, loss to Barty and win vs Gavrilova would be the best you could hope for. Which means someone else has to win. L. Kichenok is the only other Ukraine player with a singles ranking(883), so I assume it is her. Sh will have to play the singles match of her life for them to have a chance, then come back in doubles with her sister-although they have had more success recently with different partners.

Muguruza would have made this a beatdown, but even without her, this is the one WG2 matchup in which the road team should win. Lara is the key, because if she loses a match to somebody like Paolini, Italy might be able to steal the tie.

MIP-Guarachi- I am high on her, but she is listed as Chile's #3. So ride Haddad Maia and Brazil.

MIP-Kumkhum- Thailand needed her to run the table. She didn't, so a deep Japan team looks like they will.

Asia/Oceania 2
MIP-Sharipova- Uzbekistan stands out, first because Iroda T. is their coach, but they do have 3 women that have played WTA level singles matches, which in that region is not a given.

MIP-Kontaveit- Latvia has their dream team, and Great Britain has Konta/Watson. Estonia doesn't have Kanepi, so Kontaveit is going to have to do the heavy lifting. The other interesting team here is Poland, who has the Frech/Swigatek combo, who in about 3 years, will be dangerous. So beat them now.

Thu Feb 08, 09:55:00 AM EST  
Blogger colt13 said...

I was planning to put this last, since Halep is now out.

Canada has a bad roster. Make the jokes you want about Bouchard, but she would be the #1 here. Instead, you get Zhao, is at best is a journeyman type. Her playing twice is a bad idea, but what are your other options? Sebov? They seem scared to use her. Dabrowski? I actually think she is a better singles choice than Zhao, crazy at it sounds. Either was, some combo of Begu/Cirstea/Bogdan should crush Zhao.

Thu Feb 08, 10:18:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Yeah, I updated the ROU/CAN preview to reflect Halep's absence. I waited as long as I could to post, expecting some big pull-out (as it always happens), but as of yesterday Halep was still listed on the team on the FC site and her comments about playing were featured high on the FC Twitter feed, though apparently she *had* said she wasn't going to be playing. Then... of course, the change is finally made today. (Throws up hands, giving up.)

EVERY time I have to go back and change something afterward. Annoying.

Only changed the ROU win from 4-0 to 4-1. Wish Andreescu had put up better results in the season's early weeks, but maybe a win here (and a close loss?) will get her going.

Thu Feb 08, 12:47:00 PM EST  

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