Canada was facing seemingly impossible odds heading into day two of their Fed Cup World Group II playoff with Slovakia trailing 2-0. The girls from the great white north gave it their all and went down swinging, but in the end, despite winning two of the three rubbers on day two, their comeback bid fell just short, as Dominika Cibulkova was the hero and kept Slovakia in the World Group II, leading her team to a narrow 3-2 victory.
Abanda kicks off comeback
Jana Cepelova was in for Anna-Karolina Schmiedlova on day two, which was just fine for Canada’s number one Francoise Abanda. The 19-year-old from Montreal had been forced to battle through a three-setter in vain on Saturday, so not having to facing the Slovakian number one seemed like a good break. However, Cepelova came out firing and Abanda quickly found herself down 4-1 in the opening set, with all seeming lost for the Canadians.
However, Abanda always plays her best in the Fed Cup and Sunday was no exception. She roared back, winning six of the next seven games, breaking Cepelova twice, to claim the opening set. The Montreal native had completely turned the momentum of the match around and it continued into the second set, as she kept on rolling right through, winning all four of her opponent’s service games in the set to win it and keep Canada alive with a 7-5, 6-2 victory.
Cibulkova brutally ends Canadian comeback
Abanda’s heroics would all be for not, as Dominika Cibulkova wasted no time in extinguishing Canadian hopes in the final singles rubber. The recent Katowice champion was ruthless in her dismantling of Canada’s Aleksandra Wozniak. Cibulkova broke the Canadian veteran six times out of seven service games, pounded 18 winners while benefitting from 28 unforced errors from Wozniak to cruise to a 6-2, 6-0 victory. It only took Cibulkova an hour and one minute to give her country an unassailable 3-1 lead and clinch their place in the 2017 World Group II.
Canada goes out with honour
Despite the tie being decided, there was still a doubles rubber to play. Sharon Fichman and Charlotte Robillard-Millette wanted to the Canadians to finish the tie well, and got out to a great start, claiming the opening set. But the Slovakian team of Cepelova and Tereza Mihalikova, bolstered by the home crowd who wanted to cap off the tie with another win, roared back, dominating the second set and winning it to love to force a third set.
The match tiebreak would decide which team would go out on a winning note. Much like most of the tie, it was close from start to finish. In the end, it was the Canadians who outduelled their opponents, bringing some additional honour home with them, winning the tiebreak and the match 6-3, 3-6, 10-8.
Slovakia will now remain in the World Group II in 2017 after the 3-2 victory. Canada will be relegated to the Americas Zone for the first time since 2013.