After the first day of their Fed Cup World Group II tie, all is even between Canada and Belarus. The numbers twos both defeated the number ones in singles action.
Belarus Fights to Early Lead
Despite being her nation’s top choice, Canada’s Francoise Abanda was the underdog in the opening match of the tie against the much higher ranked Aliaksandra Sasnovich. Abanda was the more aggressive of the two in the opening set, hitting eight winners to her opponent's one. However, she followed that up with 16 unforced errors. Despite breaking Sasnovich’s serve twice, Abanda could not take advantage as she was broken three times to allow Sasnovich the early lead.
Abanda was not discouraged and continued to attack Sasnovich in the second set. Her aggression paid off this time, breaking her Belarusian opponent twice. The Canadian also saved both break points that she faced to send the match to a deciding set. Abanda could not keep the momentum going though and began to fall apart in the final set.
She double faulted five times and hit 15 unforced errors to only six winners. Once again, the Canadian was unable to save any of the three break points against her serve. That included when she was serving to stay in the match. Sasnovich wrapped up the victory and the early lead for Belarus with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 win in just under two hours.
Wozniak Dominates to Draw Even
Belarus seemed to be in perfect position to take a stranglehold on the tie with their top selection, 74th ranked Olga Govortsova, taking on the 803rd ranked player in the world, Aleksandra Wozniak. Wozniak was making a return from injury, so the stars appeared aligned for Govortsova and the Belarusian team.
Wozniak had other ideas. The former world number 21 came out firing, breaking Govortsova three times in the opening set. Her return was stellar, winning 53 percent of points on her opponent's serve. Govortsova did not seem to know how to deal with Wozniak and did herself no favors by gifting the Canadian points with 14 unforced errors. Despite five double faults, Wozniak was solid on serve and limited her opponent to one break. The Canadian would only lose seven rally points on serve.
Looking more like the former top 30 player that she was, Wozniak broke Govortsova twice to start the second set. She raced out to a 4-0 lead. The Belarusian would recover one of the breaks to close to 4-2, but she was unable to convert any of her other four break points in the set. Wozniak was growing in confidence and pounded 16 winners in the second set, along with winning more that 50 percent of Govortsova’s service points. Serving to stay in the match at 2-5, Govortsova once again found herself down break point. The Canadian was not to be denied as she sealed the 6-2, 6-2 win in just over an hour to even the tie.
The reverse singles and doubles rubbers will take place tomorrow. Canada will hope to take advantage of its momentum and home support to return to the World Group Playoffs. With Canada’s number two choice defeating the Belarusian number one, the odds may now be in the hosts favor on Sunday.