YVERDON-LES-BAINS, SWITZERLAND: In the first year after the Patty Schnyder era, the Swiss Fed Cup team will look to keep intact its spot among the world's elite in the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II play-off. The squad with new captain Heinz Guenthardt is slightly favoured against Belarus thanks to the absence of world No.1 Victoria Azarenka.
The experienced coach has had to make one difficult choice already. Guenthardt has opted to send in the returning Timea Bacsinszky for the second singles rubber of the first day despite having been sidelined for roughly a year due to injury.
Bacsinszky had come back in February’s Fed Cup action, against Australia’s Samantha Stosur, but couldn't enjoy the sweetness of play for a long time. In March, Bacsinszky was forced to retire again in her match versus Svetlana Kuznetsova, this time due to a problem in her right arm, which she could barely lift and hasn't been in singles action since March 10.
"I really hope I can contribute one point this weekend and that we can be the overall winner", Bacsinszky said.
She will enter the match versus Olga Govortsova with good memories, as she has beaten the Belarus leader in all five previous encounters, the last having been in Indian Wells in 2011.
Guenthardt’s choice in favour of Bacsinszky means that Amra Sadikovic has to watch her teammates from the stands. The tall player with strong offensive skills has played well in the past couple of weeks, winning an ITF tournament in Faellanden and could definitely be a valuable addition to the team in case of necessity.
Bacsinszky’s opponent has also recently been in good shape, last week Govortsova reached the quarterfinal at the clay-court event in Barcelona, disposing of former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone in the first round.
In tomorrow’s second match, Stefanie Voegele will start the odds-on favorite against Aliaksandra Sasnovich. The Minsk native with the two-handed backhand may only be ranked number 760 in the world but has been dangerous on the junior tour where she currently is number 35 and should not be totally discounted.
Voegele has plenty of reason to be optimistic about the encounter as she played well during the North American clay-court swing. Her best result came in Charleston, where she almost beat Russian Top 10 player Vera Zvonareva, gaining a lot of confidence over the week.
As always, Voegele firmly keeps her feet on the ground: "We'll give our best in every single match and will then see what the final result will be."
Of course, the dimensions of the match have been changed because of Azarenka’s absence. If the Belarus squad would have been able to field this year's dominator of the WTA tour, it would have been hard to imagine the Swiss leaving the courts of Complexe Sportif des Isles victorious. But now, they have a fair chance, as captain Guenthardt points out, "It will be a difficult task but it's a very open tie and I think we can win all the five matches.”
The full draw is listed below:
R1: Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) v Olga Govortsova (BLR)
R2: Stefanie Voegele (SUI) v Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR)
R3: Stefanie Voegele (SUI) v Olga Govortsova (BLR)
R4: Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) v Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR)
R5: Belinda Bencic / Amra Sadikovic (SUI) v Olga Govortsova / Darya Kustova (BLR)
Captain Heinz Guenthardt (SUI) - 20/04/2012
Stefanie Voegele (SUI) - 20/04/2012