SHENZHEN, CHINA: Kazakhstan started strongly on day one of the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Asia/Oceania Zone Group I event at the Luohu Tennis Club after they recorded a comprehensive 3-0 victory against Korea, Rep in Pool B.
Galina Voskoboeva sealed the tie for Kazakhstan when she scored a solid 61 60 win over Korea’s Sung-Hee Han in the second rubber on Wednesday, following her teammate Yaroslava Shvedova’s opening victory.
China, the hosts of this week’s competition in Shenzhen, are the pre-tournament favourites. They begin their campaign on Thursday against Chinese Taipei in Pool A.
‘Voskoboeva is a total package’
World No. 46 Voskoboeva was impressive throughout today’s competition and the Kazakhstan team captain, Igor Shaldunov, fawning over his budding superstar, could not hold back his praise of her performance.
“Galina can do it all,” he said. “She is a total package of strength, determination and talent. Whenever she sets foot on the court, it is all business. I am sure she will battle her way into the finals.”
Shvedova was also in the singles win column earlier in the day when she defated Korea’s Ye-Ra Lee 62 60, before the two Kazakh players partnered up to pound out an impressive 61 61 doubles win over So-Jung Kim and Mi Yoo.
“Coming off the Australian Open last week, this was really an important win, for both me personally, and for our team,” said Voskoboeva, adding that unseasonably cold morning temperatures in Southern China had little impact on her performance. “I had a slow start but it is great to be back on a winning swing.”
Ice hockey anyone?
Joining Kazakhstan at the top of Pool B with a win on Wednesday are Thailand, who whitewashed Indonesia 3-0. The Thais dominated centre court with Noppawan Lertcheewakarn posting a 76(4) 61 comeback win over Indonesia’s Jessy Rompies. Tamarine Tanasugarn then eased past Ayu-Fani Damayanti 62 61, before the doubles rubber was also taken in straight sets.
“It is a lot colder here than it is balmy Bangkok,” said Lertcheewakarn, who was down 4-1 before fighting her way back in the first set. “There were a lot of points that I struggled just to be able to get to deuce and I really had to fight my way through. Playing in centre court this morning was like playing in an ice hockey arena. It was freezing!”
The 20-year-old credits her teammates Tanasugarn and Nungnadda Wannasuk for pushing her during pre-match warm-ups, adding, “Now I just want to go back to the hotel and take a long, hot shower.”
Lertcheewakarn wasn’t the only player to notice the cold weather in Shenzhen. Chinese Taipei’s Kai-Chen Chang, who battled back to win the decisive second rubber in her team’s 3-0 triumph over Uzbekistan, also commented on the conditions.
“I really felt the impact of the cold weather as well,” said Chang, speaking after her 06 64 75 win over Nigina Abduraimova. Like her Thai counterpart, Chang credits an unrelenting warm-up to prepare her for competition. Su-Wei Hsieh had earlier put Chinese Taipei in the lead by notching a 63 61 victory over Sabina Sharipova.
China ready to begin
Looming like a giant dragon over all competitors in Group I was the absence of China, who had a rest day on Wednesday. The Chinese team are expected to start superstar Li Na, the world No. 9 and reigning Roland Garros champion, when they open their account against Chinese Taipei on Thursday.
Li and her teammates Shuai Peng, Jie Zheng and Shuai Zhang were on hand for the Fed Cup opening ceremony earlier in the day, and after a quick photo op with tournament directors, were quickly hustled off centre court and out of the stadium by China’s captain Lu Ling.
Click the link below for more information about Asia/Oceania Zone Group I, including individual results from each tie.
- Asia/Oceania Zone Group I