WASHINGTON, February 11, 2019 (by Michael Dickens)
Switzerland celebrated team captain Heinz Guenthardt’s 60th birthday in style. The Swiss presented him with a 3-1 victory over Italy in Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II play at Biel on Sunday. Spain, Latvia and Canada also earned tie victories that kept each of its respective hopes alive of advancing to the World Group.
Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic contributed a pair of singles triumphs, including a 6-2, 6-4 win over Camila Giorgi in the third rubber, which clinched the tie for the Swiss. It advanced Switzerland to the World Group playoff in April. Meanwhile, Italy, which won four Fed Cup titles between 2006 and 2013, faces relegation if it fails to win in April. The Italian’s loss to Switzerland was its fourth consecutive away defeat.
Swiss bliss! 🇨🇭 👌
— Fed Cup (@FedCup) 10. Februar 2019
“That was a wonderful weekend,” the 45th-ranked Bencic was quoted by FedCup.com as saying. “We had a great atmosphere in the team and for me it was great to win two points. We have a lot of work to get back in the World Group – April seems a long way off and things change fast in tennis. We would like a home tie but we’ll take a lot of confidence from this.”
Solid play from Bencic and No. 101 Viktorija Golubic, whose upset of No. 28 Giorgi in the second rubber Saturday lifted the Swiss, has contributed to a great turnaround for a team which did not win a single live rubber last year.
“We feel like the Musketeers – all for one, one for all,” said Guenthardt. “We really do have a special team feeling. This is an individual sport but a couple of times a year you can be part of the team and it’s such a privilege. So the Musketeer slogan is an old one, but a good one.”
In other World Group II ties:
Spain 3, Japan 2
Georgina Garcia-Perez starred for the Spaniards against Japan at Kota-Kyushu. She had a hand in all three of her team’s points as Spain twice came from behind to beat the Japanese 3-2.
On Saturday, the No. 161 Garcia-Perez survived a match point against Misaki Doi and won, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (2). Then, on Sunday, she defeated Nao Hibino, 6-3, 1-6, 6-1, to level the tie at 2-2. Finally, she teamed up with Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez for a 6-1, 6-3 victory overt Miyu Kato and Makoto Ninomiya.
“This weekend was perfect for me,” said Garcia-Perez, who is ranked No. 95 in doubles. “I thought yesterday it was very important that I won my first match. I wasn’t surprised to play the doubles because I played really good this weekend and the surface suits me very well. I was very positive and really wanted to win this tie for my country. I’m not tired, I’m so happy – my adrenaline is very high.”
Latvia 4, Slovakia 0
Anastasija Sevastova clinched Latvia’s shutout over Slovakia with a 6-3, 6-2 triumph over Rebecca Sramkova at Riga. The No. 12 Savastova didn’t drop a set in either of her two victories over the weekend as she lost just nine games. Coupled with an opening rubber win by No. 22 Jelena Ostapenko and a point in the dead rubber doubles, Slovakia advanced to April’s World Group playoff.
“In Fed Cup, there are different emotions but in the end, you’re relieved when the week is over,” said Sevastova before the tie began. “You go to Doha and you’re like ‘phew!
“I knew it would be hard week, stressful week, a lot of things to do. But I still enjoyed it. For sure, it’s tough. It’s our first time. It’s new for us. But we dealt well, so I hope we can play again at home. We can be stressed a little bit and enjoy it too.”
Canada 4, Netherlands 0
Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu, who was the highest-ranked player in the Canada-Netherlands tie at No. 70, won twice on indoor clay at ‘s-Hertogenbosch to cap a successful weekend for new team captain Heidi El Tabakh.
The 18-year-old Andreescu beat both Richel Hogenkamp in the opening rubber on Saturday, then returned Sunday to clinch her team’s victory with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Dutch No. 1 Arantxa Rus, ranked No 129 that gave Canada an insurmountable 3-0 lead. The Canadians added a point with a dead rubber win.
“I feel like everything is just clicking right now,” said Andreescu. “I have put in a lot of work throughout the years and now it’s paying off. I didn’t expect it to come so quickly, but better now than later I guess. I’m really really proud of myself.”