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21 April 2012

Switzerland-Belarus delicately poised after first day


  • Marco Keller

Photo: Andy MuellerStefanie Voegele and Heinz Guenthardt (SUI)

YVERDON-LES-BAINS, SWITZERLAND: The tie between Switzerland and Belarus will be decided on Sunday. Stefanie Voegele gave the Swiss the equalizing point as expected against rookie Aliaksandra Sasnovich, prevailing 60 57 63 in a tough encounter.

In the first match, Olga Govortsova had given the visitors the lead with a 64 64 over Timea Bacsinszky.

What looked like a "walk in the park" turned out to be a demanding run which kept Stefanie Voegele busier than she might have foreseen. She won the first set in almost no time and had no problem dominating her inexperienced opponent at first.

But as the match continued, Sasnovich found her rhythm and got rid of the nerves which had prevented her from showing her best in the first set,bwhile Voegele's level of play slightly dropped.

"I didn't get into the second set the way I had wanted and then I was always a bit behind in the score", Voegele said, "but in the third set I was able to play well again."

Also in the final stage, it was her opponent who got the early break. But after Sasnovich took the 3-2 lead the momentum changed quickly again and Voegele won the remaining four games to give the Swiss crowd something to cherish.

Voegele hadn't been satisfied with her level of play until way into the third set but then found a way to get rid of the tension. "After everything I needed to say was said, it went much better", Voegele said.

Timea Bacsinszky didn't show any reminiscence of the injuries that had kept her from the courts for almost an entire year and started well. Using the good memories from her wins in previous encounters against Govortsova, Bacsinszky grabbed a 4-2 lead and then even had a chance to go double break up. From thismoment, the Belarus player was able to lift her game.

Yet 23-year old Govortsova, who had committed five double faults in her first three service games, started to use the power of her serve better. She denied Bacsinszky the opportunity to break with a crashing serve and followed up with an ace and yet another service winner.

"I had been sick for a couple of days and had only practised once on Thursday", Govortsova explained, "but the longer the match went on, the better I started feeling."

Soon after, she found herself in a more comfortable situation. Instead of being double break down, she levelled the score at 4-4 and then never looked back, finishing the set with 10 consecutive points.

In the second set, Govortsova - who had given Serena Williams a tough first set in Belarus' defeat of the United States in February - got the first break of serve and then was 4-2 up.

Bacsinszky however wouldn't accept defeat, but just when she went 40-15 up, the lights in the newly built Complexe Sportive des Iles literally went out. After a 20-minute break, the situation could be settled and Bacsinszky came back on fire winning the next point for a second straight time. From then on, both players found their best shape and gave the crowd plenty of reason to cherish spectacular shots.

The players traded breaks of serve again and it was Bacsinszky who had to serve at 4-5 to stay in the match. She had two chances to equal again at 5-5 but Govortsova proved too strong and ended the match in a very strong manner.

"I'm disappointed and sad as I lost for my country but in general, I'm satisfied with my level of play," Bacsinszky said and added "that I'm ready if the captain needs me on Sunday again."

Captain Guenthardt, who replaced Christiane Jolissaint after February's tie versus Australia, was rather happy with his first day on the bench.

"I don't have any regrets but I think the 4 and 4 of Timea was much closer than the scoreline said. I had anticipated that all four singles could be wide open and that the tie could even go down to the doubles and I still think this is possible."

Follow this tie with live scoring:

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SUI Flag Switzerland v Belarus BLR Flag 21 Apr 2012 - 22 Apr 2012 View details

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  • More photos

    • Stefanie Voegele and Heinz Guenthardt (SUI)Swiss team
    • Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR)Stefanie Voegele (SUI)
    • Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR)Stefanie Voegele (SUI)
    • Timea Bacsinszky (SUI)Captain Heinz Guenthardt and Timea Bacsinszky (SUI)
    • Timea Bacsinszky (SUI)Timea Bacsinszky (SUI)
    • Olga Govortsova (BLR) and captain Alexander SkrypkoOlga Govortsova (BLR)
    • Swiss captain Heinz GuenthardtTeam Belarus

    4 : 1

    Complexe Sportive des Iles, Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland

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    Marco Keller

    Marco began as a sports journalist in 1994, shortly after a stint as a college tennis player in the USA. He has been working for Sportinformation, Switzerlands wire service, for a "loooong" time. In addition to being responsible for SI's Olympic project and covering ice hockey, he has had the privilege to witness the glory years of Swiss tennis, a topic he is also currently writing a book about.




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