LUGANO, SWITZERLAND: Switzerland will play in the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II after a two-year absence. The hero of the day was Patty Schnyder, who defeated Johanna Larsson 36 75 62 in what could be the veteran’s last-ever tie.
There was a huge applause on the Centre Court of the TC Lido Lugano when Schnyder sealed Switzerland's unassailable 3-0 lead against the Scandinavians at exactly 1.05pm. Partly because the local supporters were relieved that the Swiss had overcome their tricky opponents smoothly and partly in recognition of Schnyder herself.
The 32-year-old won her 50th match of a long and successful Fed Cup career, which started back in 1996. The Swiss record holder was immediately presented with flowers by Swiss Tennis president René Stammbach and Erik Keller, the president of the Fed Cup Committee.
"Once, I have time I'll definitely think about all the highlights and also about all the emotions I was able to live through in Switzerland. For sure, I have to name the semifinal and final in 1998 in Sion and Geneva but also plenty of smaller personal highlights, for example, when we beat Sweden in 2008 after saving five match points in doubles."
The match against Larsson didn't provide as much suspense as the one in Budapest, but it was still a nail biter. The Swede showed straight away that the additional practise hour she had had after her loss on Saturday to Timea Bacsinszky had been useful. She served much better than on the first day, grabbed an early 5-1 lead and went on to give her nation the first set of the tie.
Encouraged by the crowd, Schnyder fought back however and started to raise her level. She often dictated play with her spin and was also very successful with drop shots. The host was always in the lead in the second set, but couldn't convert a 5-3 lead in the first.
In the final set, Larsson gave an early glimpse of hope to her supporters, when she managed to get a 2-1 lead. But then it was a "one-woman-show": Schnyder won 21 of the last 25 points and proved again her excellent state of fitness.
The lefthander, who had cruised through the first match against Sofia Arvidsson and conceded only one game, was crystal-clear in her analysis: "There were a few factors, why it was much tougher than in the first match. She played much more relaxed than on Saturday, while it took me a while to get into the match. I also missed a couple of close balls."
The Swiss was still happy with her improvements throughout the fight: "It's hard to win many direct points against her as she has a slower game than Arvidsson, but moves better, but in the end, I still succeeded."
Switzerland went on to complete a 4-1 victory after Timea Bascinszky defeated Arvidsson 61 63, before Anna Brazhnikova and Sandra Roma won a consolation point for Sweden over Amra Sadikovic and Stefanie Voegele 75 64 in the doubles.
Captain Christiane Jolissaint (SUI) - 17/04/2011
Captain Maria Strandlund-Tomsvik (SWE) - 17/04/2011
Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) - 17/04/2011