LUGANO, SWITZERLAND: The Fed Cup by BNP Paribas play-off tie between Switzerland and Sweden in Lugano seems to be wide open. After the opening match between Switzerland’s No. 2 Timea Bacsinszky and Johanna Larsson, Patty Schnyder will take on Sofia Arvidsson by the beautiful Lake Lugano. Schnyder has had a lot of problems in the past against the all-rounder, losing both her previous Fed Cup singles, in 2002 in Malmö and in Budapest in 2008.
"It's time to change that record, I'd like to get revenge," said the 32-year-old.
For her this tie will be enormously special. Schnyder is very close to the end of her career and is likely to bid farewell to the home crowd this weekend, a crowd that has always supported the lefthander and witnessed a lot of her successes. For now, Schnyder tries to block out the possible emotions: "I know that it's most likely my last tie for Switzerland and on home soil but I'm trying not to think about it too much as these emotions won't do me any good.”
Schnyder will need all her focus on the matches, as the ties between the two teams in the past were as dramatic as if Alfred Hitchcock had written the script. Both teams have two wins, and the Swiss advantage in sets (18-17) and games (166-162) is only marginal. The last two ties are still in recent memory: In 2002, Sweden won in Malmo 3-2, after the Swiss team had overcome a 0-2 deficit and in 2008, the Swiss revered fortunes in Budapest by winning the final doubles after saving five match points.
Swiss captain Christiane Jolissaint is happy that she can still count on Schnyder: "She is still our leader, is very professional on and off the court and shares her experiences with all the players, independent of their age and level. It's enormously important for us that she is still with us here."
"We have a lot of confidence and have been practising very well since Monday. Of course, we are the slight favourites on paper but Fed Cup is always something special and really anything can happen. I really believe that we have a certain advantage, also thanks to the support of the crowd," she continued
Of course, the visitors fancy their chances as well, as captain Maria Strandlund Tomsvik said: "We wondered which surface they would chose given the date of the year but I believe clay is good for everyone. I think both teams can win each of the matches, so it's at least as open as in the past."
The Swedes won't have to look for additional motivation as they lost their first match in February against the Ukraine after an epic encounter.
"Kateryna Bondarenko just played too well that weekend. My players worked hard and I've analysed the weekend thoroughly but there wasn't much that we did wrong," said Strandlund Tomsvik The experienced captain is optimistic that they can lose that failure for themselves now: "We have that feeling of revenge and also for the last tie that we lost against Switzerland. In fact, we are full of desire for revenge."
The full draw is as follows:
R1: Timea Bascinszky (SUI) v Johanna Larsson (SWE)
R2: Patty Schnyder (SUI) v Sofia Arvidsson (SWE)
R3: Patty Schnyder (SUI) v Johanna Larsson (SWE)
R4: Timea Bascinszky (SUI) v Sofia Arvidsson (SWE)
R5: Timea Bascinszky / Patty Schnyder (SUI) v Sofia Arvidsson / Johanna Larsson (SWE)
Sofia Arvidsson (SWE) - 15/04/11
Patty Schnyder (SUI) - 15/04/11
Captain Christiane Jolissaint (SUI) - 15/04/11
Captain Maria Strandlund-Tomsvik (SWE) - 15/04/11