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04 February 2011

Europe/Africa - Day 3 report


MATCH REPORT

By 

  • Ray Stevens

Photo: Nir KeidarVictoria Azarenka (BLR)

Poland will play Belarus and Netherlands will meet Switzerland in Saturday's semifinals of the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Europe/Africa Zone Group I event in Eilat, Israel.

The draw for the latter stage has thrown up a mouth-watering encounter between two Top 10 players as Victoria Azarenka (No. 9) and Agnieszka Radwanska (No. 10) meet in what is set to be a fitting climax to an excellent week of tennis at the Eilat Municipal Tennis Centre in Israel's southern resort city.

On Friday, Poland and Belarus clinched the two remaining top spots in their respective pools, but while the Poles needed to wait to the very end to see if they would qualify, Belarus confirmed what looked like being a formality following their victories on the previous two days.

Belarus had already notched two 3-0 wins without dropping a set and registered a third easy victory over Greece. Olga Govorotsova beat Eirini Georgatou 62 63, Victoria Azarenka was untroubled in a truncated encounter with Eleni Danilidou, who retired at 60 20 down, and Daria Kustova and Tatiana Poutchek also had no problem in the doubles, winning 60 61 to make them the most successful team in the tournament.

Poland's route through was much more complicated from a pool in which – alongside Israel, Bulgaria and Luxembourg – any of the four teams could have finished either top or bottom.

In the end it hinged on the Poles beating Luxembourg and Israel beating Bulgaria. A Bulgarian win would have seen them go through, but the final results put them bottom and having to face a relegation play-off on Saturday against Latvia.

Captain Tomasz Wiktorowski was relieved to have ended in top spot. "It was pretty tough at the beginning... but finally, finally everything went correctly," he said.

Netherlands had little trouble in completing a whitewash of weak opponents. Latvia was the latest victim as the Dutch finished the pool without the loss of a set in any of their singles rubbers.

Friday's encounter was probably their easiest as Kiki Bertens crushed Lina Lileikite 62 61, Michaela Krajicek, playing as the No. 1, had little trouble against Liga Dekmeijere 62 62 and the doubles was wrapped up comfortably by Bertens and Richel Hogenkamp.

"They love to play Fed Cup, they love to play in a team, they all get along very well and they are playing extremely well," captain Manon Bolegraf said. She lamented the team's late starts and long matches, calling them "late-night specials" in the cold desert nights.

The three-team pool that included Switzerland, Great Britain and Denmark ended in that order, as the British doubles team of Heather Watson and Jocelyn Rae won a thrilling doubles rollercoaster to beat Caroline Wozniacki and Mai Grage 57 75 75. The result means that Denmark face Greece for the right to stay in Group I.

The match included a scare for Wozniacki after a service return from Watson saw the ball fly off the frame of the Dane's racket and into her face as she stood close to the net. The world No. 1 fell to the ground as everybody feared the worst, although it soon transpired that the ball had hit her on the eyebrow and no serious damage had been caused.

Wozniacki returned to the court after placing some ice on her eye and was greeted by rapturous applause but the apologetic Watson and her tall partner Rae had the last laugh as they secured the tie for Britain.

Watson had won the opening singles rubber and Wozniacki levelled with a 60 62 win over an injured Anne Keothavong in a match that was better than the one-sided scoreline suggested.

Wozniacki has won the hearts of the Eilat crowd by agreeing to sign countless autographs and pose for pictures with as many children as feasibly possible, and she and her team are certain to receive much support in their last tie on Saturday.

See below for Friday's complete results.

POOL A

Great Britain 2-1 Denmark
Heather Watson (GBR) d. Karen Barbat (DEN) 60 61
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d. Anne Keothavong (GBR) 60 62
Jocelyn Rae / Heather Watson (GBR) d. Mai Grage / Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) 57 75 75

POOL B

Poland 2-1 Luxembourg
Magda Linette (POL) d. Anne Kremer (LUX) 61 61
Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. Mandy Minella (LUX) 61 62
Anne Kremer / Mandy Minella (LUX) d. Klaudia Jans / Alicja Rosolska (POL) 60 ret.

Israel 2-1 Bulgaria
Julia Glushko (ISR) d. Elitsa Kostova (BUL) 60 62
Shahar Peer (ISR) d. Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) 46 64 60
Dia Evtimova / Magdalena Maleeva (BUL) d. Valeria Patiuk / Keren Shlomo (POL) 63 64

POOL C

Croatia 3-0 Austria
Ani Mijacika (CRO) d. Patricia Mayr-Achleitner (AUT) 46 76(2) 75
Ajla Tomljanovic (CRO) d. Sybille Bammer (AUT) 46 76(0) 61
Ani Mijacika / Ajla Tomljanovic (CRO) d. Melanie Klaffner / Sandra Klemenschits (AUT) 62 63

Belarus 3-0 Greece
Olga Govortsova (BLR) d. Eirini Georgatou (GRE) 62 63
Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. Eleni Daniilidou (GRE) 60 20 ret.
Darya Kustova / Tatiana Poutchek (BLR) d. Anna Gerasimou / Despoina Papamichail (GRE) 60 61

POOL D

Romania 2-1 Hungary
Monica Niculescu (ROU) d. Reka Luba Jani (HUN) 60 62
Alexandra Dulgheru (ROU) d. Timea Babos (HUN) 61 61
Greta Arn / Timea Babos (HUN) d. Cristina Dinu / Alexandra Dulgheru (ROU) 75 61

Netherlands 3-0 Latvia
Kiki Bertens (NED) d. Lina Lilekite (LAT) 62 61
Michaella Krajicek (NED) d. Liga Dekmeijere (LAT) 62 62
Kiki Bertens / Richel Hogemkamp (NED) d. Liga Dekmeijere / Irina Kuzmina (LAT) 61 63

- Europe/Africa Zone Group I

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Related news

    • Interviews from Eilat

      04 Feb 2011

      Ray Stevens talks to Israel's Julia Glushko and captains Nigel Sears, Manon Bollegraf and Tomasz Wiktorowski on Friday

    • Europe/Africa - Day 2 report

      03 Feb 2011

      Switzerland and Netherlands secured an early top spot in their Pools at Europe/Africa Group I on Thursday

Related ties

DEN Flag Denmark v Great Britain GBR Flag 4-4 Feb 2011 View details

LUX Flag Luxembourg v Poland POL Flag 4-4 Feb 2011 View details

BUL Flag Bulgaria v Israel ISR Flag 4-4 Feb 2011 View details

CRO Flag Croatia v Austria AUT Flag 4-4 Feb 2011 View details

GRE Flag Greece v Belarus BLR Flag 4-4 Feb 2011 View details

ROU Flag Romania v Hungary HUN Flag 4-4 Feb 2011 View details

LAT Flag Latvia v Netherlands NED Flag 4-4 Feb 2011 View details

  • More photos

    • Victoria Azarenka (BLR)Shahar Peer (ISR)
    • Ajla Tomljanovic (CRO)Elitsa Kostova (BUL)
    • Anne Kremer (LUX)Jocelyn Rae and Heather Watson (GBR)
    • Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)Anne Keothavong (GBR)
    • Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)
     
 
 

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