HELSINGBORG, SWEDEN: Sweden and Ukraine are level at 1-1 after the first day of the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II tie in Helsingborg. The No. 1 player for both teams lived up to expectations by recording straight set wins.
Sofia Arvidsson gave Sweden the lead by beating Fed Cup debutante Lesia Tsurenko 63 62. The Swede was stronger all round and served very well, winning 80 per cent of the points when the first serve had the right address.
“I was playing well in January and lost against good opponents,” said Arvidsson. “In addition to this I also played a number of doubles and mixed where the serve is important and used a lot. I feel that I really can hit through the serve and it gave me some free points.”
In the Australian Open, for example, Arvidsson held set points against Li Na in the first round before slipping to defeat, and she also reached the doubles final in Auckland. The form proved to be still there in Helsingborg and she loves to play indoors.
The second singles match was closer and went to Ukraine in two tiebreak sets 76(2) 76(5). Kateryna Bondarenko, a former Top 30 player, showed her class and used her greater experience in the tiebreaks against Johanna Larsson.
“It could be a little bit easier and maybe it is like a relief more than anything else, but I won and that is good enough. We got 1-1,” said the Ukrainian.
Larsson was fighting hard but had difficulties to dictate the points. Bondarenko was also playing smart, playing a lot to Larsson’s weaker backhand and also mixing up soft balls with a lot of spin and using the angles well.
Larsson was deeply disappointed afterwards. “I feel kind of baffled and surprised it’s over,” she said. “I felt like I would love to go the distance and still be on the court.”
From a Swedish perspective, captain Maria Strandlund was content with a draw after the first day. “With a little bit perspective, yes, I am happy for Johanna that she made a match where she proved that she can stay with the top players, and that she is almost levelled with Bondarenko gives me good hope for the Sunday,” she said.
Bondarenko is hoping that both Ukrainian players can pick up their performance on Sunday. “I think I played alright but I can do better,” she said. “I think Lesia will do better the second day. It´s not easy to play your first Fed Cup tie. She can learn from this day and she will know how to play Larsson.”
The reverse singles sees the battle of the No. 1s in the first match, Arvidsson versus Bondarenko, followed by Larsson against Tsurenko. If it goes the distance, the Ukrainians have named Olga Savchuk to partner Bondarenko in the doubles, while the Swedish duo of Arvidsson and Larsson are set to continue.