Hosts Switzerland and Czech Republic kicked off their semifinal tie at the Messe Luzern stadium. Barbora Strycova scored the first point for the Czechs when she overwhelmed Timea Bacsinszky in straight sets. Their hopes of finishing the opening day with a 100 percent winning record were dashed when Viktorija Golubic came back from behind to score a hard-fought three-set win over Karolina Pliskova in the second rubber.
Strycova scores opening set bagel
Barbora Strycova impressively breezed through the opening set by bagelling her opponent in exactly half an hour. She did not face a single break point throughout the first set and converted four of her seven break points. She then converted her first set point to seal the bagel.
No looking back for Strycova
The second set overall pretty much followed the same wavelength as the first did. After holding her serve, Strycova broke her opponent to love to take a 2-0 lead. Bacsinszky finally avoided the double bagel by getting on the scoreboard two games later. A comfortable hold of serve by Strycova preceded a love hold by the Swiss but by then, the momentum was already in the hands of the Czech as she took her first match point to win 6-0, 6-2, taking the Czechs to a 1-0 lead in the tie.
Strycova who played a clean match hit 12 winners compared to Bacsinszky’s five. What also made the difference was the unforced errors where the Swiss hit a bizarre 25 as opposed to her opponent who managed nine less. It was a bad day at the office for the Swiss who could not impress the home crowd and she will want to put this loss behind her.
Pliskova sails through first set
Viktorija Golubic entered this match ranked 111 places lower than Karolina Pliskova. Moreover, she was yet to play a Fed Cup rubber in 2016 as opposed to Pliskova who has won all her three rubbers. Pliskova looked like she was en route to giving the Czech team a comfortable 2-0 lead over the hosts when she took the opening set 6-3, breaking her opponent twice in the process.
Golubic levels the match
However Golubic despite having lesser experience assured the Swiss team some hope when she won the second set to level the match. In the second set, Golubic after getting broken in sixth game, broke Pliskova right back and then saved a break point in her following service game to hold her serve. She then broke the Czech’s serve once more and subsequently served out the set 6-4 on her second set point.
Golubic defies the odds to keep Swiss hopes alive
After two consecutive holds of serve in the decider, Golubic drew fire first by breaking Pliskova only to be broken back in the next game. Pliskova then saved another three break points in the following game but was ultimately broken once again. Another long Golubic service game followed but she successfully saved two break points to hold serve and lead 4-2.
She then found herself serving for the match after breaking Pliskova’s serve in the next game. She was not successful on her first attempt as her opponent broke right back. The Czech did not face trouble holding her serve and Golubic now will attempt to serve out the match once again. The Swiss held her nerve, producing a backhand down the line winner on match point to score the biggest win of her career, triumphing 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and 19 minutes and thus, keeping Switzerland’s hopes of securing a final berth alive.
The numbers spoke for themselves as Golubic finished the match with 29 winners and 17 unforced errors. Pliskova however despite hitting six more winners than her opponent made 57 unforced errors which cost her the match. Pliskova’s brilliant 18 aces did not do much help either. Golubic also recorded a higher first serve percentage at 67 compared to her opponent’s 60.
On day two, the reverse singles rubbers take place with Golubic and Bacsinszky going up against Strycova and Pliskova respectively. The doubles rubber will be played if both teams remain leveled after both matches in order to decide the winner of this semifinal tie. The projected players to compete in doubles are Bacsinszky and Martina Hingis against Denisa Allertova and Lucie Hradecka.