The Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II play-off concluded on Sunday, with Canada securing a spot in the World Group II for 2018. Françoise Abanda (Montreal, QC) kicked things off with an impressive victory over Yulia Putintseva, 6-3, 6-3. Bianca Andreescu (Mississauga, ON) followed up with a win of her own over Yaroslava Shvedova 7-6(1), 6-4.
The first match of the day featured the top two players from each country. At the beginning of the first set, the players traded breaks, before Putintseva was able to hold for the first time in the match. Play was tight until the Kazakh player double faulted, giving Abanda three break points, on which she was able to convert. The turning point in the set occurred when Abanda battled back from 40-0 on her own service game to eventually win the point, to the great delight of the home crowd. The match featured heavy baseline hitting and long rallies. Abanda had a strong start to the second set, where she went up an early break and never looked back. She broke Putintseva in the final game, taking the match 6-3, 6-3.
“I didn’t start the match the way I wanted to today, but I am proud that I was able to adjust my game and turn the momentum of the first set in my favor. My game plan was to play aggressively today and to avoid getting into long rallies with her, because I know that she can be dangerous in that area,” stated Abanda after her win. “It is a great feeling to beat Top 50 players and I hope to take this confidence with me in my upcoming tournaments.”
For her part, Andreescu went down an early break in the second match of the day, before rallying back to get a break of her own to even the score. The Canadian faced a resilient opponent in Shvedova, but eventually took the first set, where she was notably dominant in the tie break. The start of the second set was a mirror image of the first, with Shvedova going up an early break. The Canadian broke right back and went on to win the decisive match for Canada 7-6(1), 6-4.
“I was a bit nervous in the first set of the match, but I handled it well in the end. I told myself to go for every shot, and I think that I executed well today. This is the most significant win for me so far in my career,” said Andreescu after her important victory. “This weekend has been a great experience for me; I enjoyed every moment. I showed that I am able to compete with Top 50 players and I am proud of my performance.”
Although the tie was settled after the conclusion of the singles matches, a final doubles match was played opposing Galina Voskoboeva and
Kamila Kerimbayeva of Kazakhstan against Gabriela Dabrowski and Katherine Sebov of Canada. Kazakhstan won the final doubles rubber 6-7(6), 7-6(6), 10-5.
“This is a great result for our team. I am very proud of the tennis that our girls played and their attitude throughout the weekend. We have an increasing amount of talented Canadian players who are pushing to compete at the highest level,” stated Canadian captain Sylvain Bruneau. “The girls showed that they can hold their own against some of the best players in the world. It is mission accomplished for us this weekend.”
This win over Kazakhstan will bring the Canadian squad back into World Group II in 2018, a place they haven’t competed in since February 2016.