The Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II play-off is 2-0 in favour of Canada after the first day of play at Maaspoort Sport & Events. Bianca Andreescu (Mississauga, ON) and Françoise Abanda (Montreal, QC) notched important victories on the opening day action to give their nation the lead.
In the first match of the day, Andreescu took on Richel Hogenkamp, the no. 2 player for the Netherlands. The two players have played twice before, once at the French Open qualifying and the other in the quarter-finals of the Saguenay Challenger. They are tied at one win each, with the Canadian having won the most recent match-up. It was a closely disputed first set before Andreescu broke late to take the lead. She continued her momentum into the second and dominated the rest of the match, winning by a score of 6-4, 6-1.
“I was very nervous right before the match, so I’m glad I could shake off the nerves and get the win today. When you play for your country and people are supporting you in the stands, you want to do the best that you can and I think I did that. Today, I tried to stay as aggressive as I could and I came out with the win,” stated Andreescu after her win.
Abanda was looking to follow in her compatriot’s footsteps, as she was taking on the Dutch no. 1 Arantxa Rus. Both players had a nervous start to the match, firing a number of double faults and exchanging a few breaks. In a never-ending tiebreak, it was Abanda who came out with the lead. After dropping the second, the Canadian fought back with the support of the few Canadian fans. It took a little over two and a half hours for Abanda to give Canada the 2-0 lead with her 7-6(8), 4-6, 6-4.
“I was really happy with the way I fought. She is at home and obviously wanted to win, so I had to go for my shots. It was tough at some points, I missed some shots, but I am pleased that I was able to manage the pressure and the nerves and get the win. I want to thank Heidi for her support, she was able to keep me motivated throughout the match,” said Abanda.
The Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II play-off will continue on Sunday, with both no. 1 players facing off against each other. Andreescu and Rus will be followed by a match disputed between the number two players from each team, Abanda and Hogenkamp. This will be the first meeting between the no. 1 players, while Hogenkamp leads 2-0 in her head-to-head against Abanda. The day will conclude with a final doubles match featuring Andreescu and Dabrowski for the Canadian team and the duo of Demi Schuurs and Bibiane Schoofs for the Netherlands.
“My job was to make sure that the girls went in to their matches with the right frame of mind, stay positive and motivated. I think they did a great job of executing our game plan. It is a pleasure for me to be able to be out there with our players as they put their hearts on the line. This was a pretty successful first day for me,” said El Tabakh.
A win over the Netherlands will allow the Canadian squad to compete for a spot in the World Group for 2020, while a loss would bring them to the World Group II play-offs.