The Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II play-off tie between Canada and Ukraine is 1-1 after the first day of play at IGA Stadium in Montreal. Replacing Françoise Abanda in the first match of the day, Bianca Andreescu (Mississauga, ON) put up a tough fight against Lesia Tsurenko, but was forced to retire in the third set, losing 6-4, 3-6, 0-4. Eugenie Bouchard (Montreal, QC) tied things up for Canada, overcoming Kateryna Bondarenko by a score of 6-2, 7-5.
Prior to the start of the first match, it was announced that Françoise Abanda would be replaced by Bianca Andreescu after the Montreal native fell during her pre-match warm-up. She has been evaluated by the doctor and is dealing with a periorbital contusion. She will be re-evaluated on Sunday before the start of the matches.
After finding out that she would be playing in the first match at the very last minute, Bianca Andreescu went down an early break in the opening set. The young Canadian did not back down against her higher ranked opponent, evening out the score and eventually getting the late break to take the first. Despite falling behind early in the second, Tsurenko was able to elevate her game to not only even the score, but to then take the lead and the set. In the decider, Andreescu was down 0-4 before having to retire from the match due to cramping. Thus, Tsurenko got the first point for her country with her 4-6, 6-3, 4-0 ret. victory. The match lasted a little over two hours, with Andreescu firing two aces, but also committing 37 unforced errors.
“Right now, emotionally, I’m pretty devastated with what happened because I think I was on a roll. I was playing some of my best tennis. I was giving my all on the court and that’s all I could ask from myself,” stated Andreescu after her match. “And then sadly I started cramping. I began feeling it a bit in the second set and as the match was going on, my body was tightening up. I will be fine and we will see for tomorrow.”
In the second match of the day, Eugenie Bouchard started strong against Kateryna Bondarenko, converting on two of her eight break point opportunities. After taking the first set, the Montreal native found herself in some trouble early in the second. Her level dropped in the first few games, but she managed to regain momentum shortly after. Both players struggled on their serve in the second, with Bouchard committing two double faults while her Ukrainian opponent totaled six. The Canadian then went up a late break to giver herself the opportunity to serve for the set. After just over an hour and a half of play, Bouchard got the victory 6-2, 7-5 to bring the overall score to even. This is the first time that the Montreal fans have seen the former world no. 5 in action since the Rogers Cup in 2016.
“This was one my best matches of the year. The loud support of the crowd definitely helped me,” said Bouchard after her crucial victory. “I hurt my left hand at the start of the match as I was chasing down a ball. I saw the doctor before coming up to my press conference and I will see him again later. I hope to be ok to play tomorrow.”
The Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II play-off tie will continue on Sunday, with both winners from Saturday facing each other in the first match of the day. Bouchard and Tsurenko will be followed by a match disputed between the number two players from each team, Abanda and Bondarenko. The day will conclude with a final doubles match. A win over Ukraine will allow the Canadian squad to remain in the World Group II for 2019, while a loss will relegate them back into the Americas Zone Group I.