Fed Cup: Short-handed Poland fight to stay even with Chinese Taipei
Paula Kania shows her frustration during his Fed Cup loss on Saturday. Photo: Adam Nurkiewicz/Fed Cup

Things did not go as planned for the host Poles on the first day of their Fed Cup World Group II playoff with Chinese Taipei. Without their number one, Poland was forced to go with a weaker lineup, and their opponents took advantage. Chinese Taipei would score an upset in the opening rubber before Poland righted the ship, leaving the tie deadlocked at 1-1 after day one in Wroclaw.

Poland was hit with a major blow on Friday when their top two singles players, world number three Agnieszka Radwanska and number 103 Magda Linette, were both forced to pull out of the tie, leaving Poland without a player in the top 150 and surrendering their clear rankings advantage. Instead, Paula Kania and world number 485 Magdalena Frech would have to carry the load.

Hsu stuns Kania for early lead

Things went for bad to worse for the Poles when their makeshift number one, Paula Kania, was upset in the opening rubber by Ching-Wen Hsu, ranked 200 places below her in the rankings. The Taiwanese player was in control from start to finish in the match. She needed a pair of breaks to close out Kania in the opening set, as the Pole tried to keep pace with a break of her own. However, Hsu dominated the early stages of the second set, grabbing a pair of early breaks and racing to a 5-2 lead.

Ching-Wen Hsu celebrates her victory in the opening rubber. Photo: Adam Nurkiewicz/Fed Cup
Ching-Wen Hsu celebrates her victory in the opening rubber. Photo: Adam Nurkiewicz/Fed Cup

That’s when Kania started to get her act together. She broke Hsu as she served for the match and then held to put the pressure back on the Taiwanese. However, she was unable to repeat the break as Hsu managed to hold to give her country a surprise lead. Hsu doubled Kania in winners and breaks to claim victory 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 16 minutes.

Frech makes dream debut

Chinese Taipei appeared to be in the perfect position to take a strangle-hold on the tie as their number one Ya-Hsuan Lee took a nearly 300 ranking place and years of experience advantage into her rubber with substitute Polish number two Magdalena Frech. Frech was making her Fed Cup debut.  Everything seemed to be going right on this day for Chinese Taipei when Lee claimed the opening set 6-4.

Magdalena Frech stretches for a forehand during her comeback victory. Photo: Adam Nurkiewicz/Fed Cup
Magdalena Frech stretches for a forehand during her comeback victory. Photo: Adam Nurkiewicz/Fed Cup

But then Frech hit her stride. The 18-year-old upped her game in the second set and completely dominated. She broke Lee three times and forced 17 errors off of her opponent’s racquet and only dropped two points on her own first serve, saving the only break point she faced to claim the set 6-0 and force a decider. The momentum was firmly with Frech in the decider and she barely let up. While she was broken once, she responded with three breaks of her own to wrap up with 4-6, 6-0, 6-2 comeback victory.

The tie is even at 1-1 after day one. Tomorrow will be the reverse singles, with the two vanquished players doing battle followed by the two victors from day one. With the way things are going in this tie, the doubles may be required to decide it.

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