The Czech Republic and Switzerland are tied at 1-1 heading into the second day of their Fed Cup semifinal tie, held on indoor hard courts in Lucerne, Switzerland. The following matches will determine who will reach the final in November later this year.
Third Rubber: Timea Bacsinszky - Karolina Pliskova
Bacsinszky came into this tie behind a confidence inducing run to the Miami semifinals, accounting for Agnieszka Radwanska and Simona Halep en route. However, with the pressure of being the highest ranked Swiss player in light of Belinda Bencic’s injury withdrawal, the world number 17 was ill at ease against Barbora Strycova in her opening match here, losing 6-0, 6-2.
In similarity, Pliskova was thrust into pole position for her country when Fed Cup stalwarts Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova proved unavailable. Despite a promising run to the Indian Wells semifinal recently, the world number 18 has been erratic for the most of this year and lacked confidence against the world number 129 Viktorija Golubic in her first match here. Despite boasting a 5-1 win-loss record in Fed Cup singles matches, as well as a 6-3, 4-2 lead against her opponent, Pliskova failed to apply her experience and went down 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Therefore, neither player will be confident coming into the second day. Bacsinszky dominates Pliskova 2-0 in their personal rivalry, winning their most recent encounter in Rome last year 6-4, 6-0. With the home crowd cheering her on, the 26-year-old will hope to lull her lackadaisical opponent into errors with her unorthodox and steady baseline style. Pliskova can’t afford to slip up as she did in her previous match, but given the 24-year-old’s recent record, there is no guarantee that she won’t.
Prediction: Bacsinszky in three sets
Fourth Rubber: Barbora Strycova - Viktorija Golubic
Strycova apparently loves the Fed Cup atmosphere, contributing to the winning doubles efforts in the past two ties. Given her recent run of form which saw her reach the Dubai final, the world number 33 has been called upon once again, but this time in singles. Despite the ranking disparity in her opening match against Bacsinszky, Strycova looked confident throughout having never lost to the Swiss in three previous encounters.
Few would’ve expected Golubic to make such a fine Fed Cup singles debut. Though ranked outside of the top 100, the 23-year-old had no doubt gained confidence from qualifying into the main draw of Katowice last week and took advantage of her underdog status and the home support to level the tie at one a piece.
Unsurprisingly, Strycova and Golubic have never played before. The 30-year-old will no doubt use her versatile game to unsettle her opponent and rely on her experience to seal the potentially decisive match for the tie. That being said, the newcomer showed few nerves in her previous match and may well spring yet another surprise, using her powerful one handed backhand to upset the odds once more.
Prediction: Strycova in two sets
Fifth Rubber: Martina Hingis/Timea Bacsinszky - Lucie Hradecka/Denisa Allertova
If required, the Swiss have a strong advantage in the doubles rubber, given the inclusion of the world number one Hingis. The 35-year-old’s vast experience and intuitive game should combine well with the consistency of Bacsinszky, who doesn’t often play doubles.
That being said, Hradecka is currently ranked number 10 in doubles and has a couple of majors to her name. Partnering similarly big serving Allertova, the pair will definitely be the aggressors in the match but will have to be careful not to commit excessive amounts of unforced errors against their steadfast opponents.
Prediction: Hingis/Bacsinszky in straight sets
After Bacsinszky out steadies Pliskova, Strycova will do the same against Golubic. In the doubles rubber, the tactical acumen of Hingis will prove decisive as it did against Germany earlier this year and the Czech's will be left to rue Kvitova's absence. With the defending champions out, the Swiss home crowd will celebrate reaching their first Fed Cup final since 1998.
Prediction: Switzerland beats Czech Republic 3-2