(ISN) – Quebec City, – The Canadian Fed Cup team has lost its first-ever tie in Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group play, falling 4-0 to Czech Republic in the first round on Sunday.
Playing at PEPS on the campus of Laval University in Quebec City, the Czechs entered the day leading 2-0 and officially earned the sweep thanks to Karolina Pliskova’s 6-4, 6-2 triumph over Gabriela Dabrowski (Ottawa) in the third rubber of the tie. Rounding out the weekend was a 6-1, 7-6(2) loss by Dabrowski and Francoise Abanda (Montreal) to Lucie Hradecka and Denisa Allertova in a doubles match that had no bearing on the overall result.
Dabrowski put up a valiant fight trying to keep her country in contention. Against her No. 22-ranked opponent, she took an early 4-1 lead as she illustrated her variety of shots and ability to mix up her game. Pliskova came back hard though and at 4-4 she earned the solidifying break and showed no nerves in serving out the set at love. In the second set, Pliskova rode her momentum to a quick 4-0 lead and while Dabrowski was able to battle back to 4-2, it was not enough. The No. 1 Czech triumphed in 72 minutes to clinch the tie for her country.
“After [Pliskova] won the first set, she settled down and was more relaxed,” Dabrowski said. “But I gave my best on every point regardless of whether I was up 4-1 or I lost the first set or I was down in the second. I was trying my hardest the whole time.”
The first day of the tie saw Abanda drop a 6-2, 6-4 decision to Pliskova and Dabrowski fall 6-1, 6-2 to Tereza Smitkova. The two other members of team Canada this weekend were 16-year-old rookie Charlotte Robillard-Millette (Blainville, Que.) and Fed Cup veteran Sharon Fichman (Toronto), who was unavailable to take the court due to injury.
“It wasn’t the result we were hoping for,” said Canadian team captain Sylvain Bruneau. “I knew it would be difficult to win this but I thought we had a chance. I told them to give it their all and take advantage of the opportunity. I felt they really tried but the level as of now is just not as high as the Czechs.”
With the win, Czech Republic now advances into the Fed Cup semifinals for the seventh consecutive year. The powerhouse tennis nation, who also won back-to-back Davis Cup by BNP Paribas titles in 2012 and 2013, is the defending champion and has won the title three times in the past four years.
Canada, who was competing in the eight-team World Group for the first time, will now be forced to participate in a World Group play-off on April 18 and 19 to try and keep its place in the highest level of Fed Cup play for 2016. A win would maintain Canada’s position in the World Group while a loss would drop the squad back down to World Group II, where it played last year. The official draw for the World Group play-offs will take place on Tuesday and will determine Canada’s opponent and whether the tie will be played at home or away.
“April will not be an easy tie,” Bruneau said. “Whoever we play it will be a tough country. Hopefully we have some of the players we were missing this weekend to help us but the experience that our girls had this weekend could also serve them well in the future.”