Australia, Slovakia, Romania and Italy move into the Fed Cup World Group Play-Offs
Australia needed a decisive win in the doubles match against the Ukraine to move into the Fed Cup World Group Play-Off, which will be played next April. Romania secured their spot in the Play-off by beating Canada 3-1. Slovakia beat Russia 4-1 to advance to the World Group Play-off. These three teams have joined Italy, which edged Spain 3-2 in a dramatic tie in Chieti.
Italy, Australia, Slovakia and Romania will be joined by the four losing teams from last weekend’s World Group I ties. The Play-Off will determine the teams, who play in World Group I in 2019.
Australia had to dig deep to beat the Ukraine 3-2. World Number 16 Ashleigh Barty beat 15-year-old Ukrainian rising star Marta Kostyuk 6-2 6-3 to take a 2-1 lead in the first Sunday’s reverse rubber match.
Nadila Kichenok fought back from one set down to beat world number 26 Daria Gavrilova 4-6 6-2 6-3 to level the tie to 2-2.
It came down to the wire in the decisive doubles match where Ashley Barty and Casey Dellacqua never faced a break point to beat Ukrainian sisters Lyudmila and Nadiia Kichenok 6-3 6-4 in 65 minutes.
“There is nothing more special being out here representing Australia, especially on my birthday. It’s really special and something I will remember. For me being a little bit older, not knowing how much longer I will play for, not knowing how many more of these moments that I will get. I really appreciated the moment and the experience”, said Dellacqua after the match.
In Bratislava Slovakia secured their spot in the Play-Off with a 3-1 win over the Russian team, who won four Fed Cup titles since 2004. On Sunday Jana Cepelova beat Natalya Vikhlyantseva 6-4 6-4 to give Slovakia a 2-1 lead in the first Sunday reverse rubber. Viktoria Kuzmova came back from one set down to beat 16-year-old Fed Cup debutant Anastasia Potapova 3-6 6-3 6-4 in the second reverse rubber match to secure the decisive 3-1 win for Slovakia.
“It wasn’t an easy situation for me, but I knew I had to stay focused and positive. The situation was made easier by the fact that Cepelova won and we were 2-1 up, so I am really delighted to have clinched the decisive rubber and put us through to the next round”, said Kuzmova.
Slovakia came back from a 1-0 deficit to break a three-match losing streak against Russia.
“I learned today that we had never beaten Russia in either the Fed Cup or the Davis Cup in 25 years, so it is a great day for Slovakian tennis and a perfect start for this new generation of players. It was a complicated day because Rybarikova had some physical issues and would have been unable to last a tough singles rubber, so we threw in Jana Cepelova.”, said Slovakian team captain Matej Liptak.
Sorana Cristea and Irina Camelia Begu won their singles matches on Saturday to give Romania a 2-0 win over Canada in Cluj. On Sunday Begu broke serve four times and won 76 % of her second serve points to beat Katherine Sebov 6-2 6-4 in 85 minutes. Canadian team formed by Gabriela Dabrowski and Carol Zhao beat Ana Bogdan and Raluca Olaru 4-6 6-1 10-6 in a match tie-break in the dead doubles match to secure the first point for the North-American squad.