Victoria Azarenka Back In The Belarus Squad For Their Fed Cup Tie With Russia

After missing BelarusWorld Group II first round tie earlier this year, Victoria Azarenka is set to feature in their clash with Russia with the incentive of reaching the World Group of the Fed Cup for the first time in their history.

Azarenka To Lead Belarus In Moscow

Azarenka will play for her country for the first time this year (Photo: Getty Images/Julian Finney)
Azarenka will play for her country for the first time this year (Photo: Getty Images/Julian Finney)

Victoria Azarenka is back in the Belarus Fed Cup squad for the first time in a year for their vital World Group Play-off encounter against Russia. The 26-year-old last represented her country against Japan in 2015, contributing to a 3-2 win which leads to this play-off match. Azarenka’s form in 2016 has been nothing short of stunning, and she will arrive in Moscow in red-hot form after securing back-to-back titles in Indian Wells and Miami.

Her record in Fed Cup action reads at 14-4 in singles, whilst she owns a 5-1 positive showing in doubles action, where occasionally she is required. Her last loss in the event was back in 2010, where Austria’s Sybille Bammer benefitted from an Azarenka retirement, but since then, the Minsk-born player has won nine singles rubbers in a row, and will look to extend the wins when they arrive in Russia.

Kasatkina will lead Russia in the tie (Photo: Getty Images/Sergei Bobylev)
Kasatkina will lead Russia in the tie (Photo: Getty Images/Sergei Bobylev)

Captain Eduard Dubrou will be delighted to be able to call upon her services, as she joins Olga Govortsova, Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Aryna Sabalenka in the team for next week’s tie. They head to Moscow aiming to reach the World Group of the competition for the first time, but face a challenging task against last year’s runners-up.

Four-times champions Russia will likely start as favourites to progress, but captain Anastasia Myskina has picked a young squad for the play-off, with Daria Kasatkina, Margarita Gasparyan, Elena Vesnina and Elizaveta Kulichkova looking to send their country back to the World Group at the first time of asking. They still remain without the likes of Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Ekaterina Makarova and Anastasia Pavluchenkova.

Back Up Into The World’s Top Five

Azarenka clinched her third title of 2016 in Miami (Photo: Getty Images/Matthew Stockman)
Azarenka clinched her third title of 2016 in Miami (Photo: Getty Images/Matthew Stockman)

Azarenka’s brilliant recent form has been rewarded by a rise back into the WTA’s top five players, after clinching her third title in an already-successful year. The success in Miami backed up an impressive display in Indian Wells, alongside the Brisbane title she secured back in the opening weeks of the season.

At the first Grand Slam of the year, Azarenka was defeated in the last eight of the draw by eventual champion Angelique Kerber, as the German got revenge for her defeat in the Brisbane final.

If Azarenka takes this form into the Fed Cup tie, then Belarus will like their chances of recording an upset, whilst the two-time Grand Slam champion will look to add a first major success outside of Melbourne starting directly after this important tie.

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