Sam gives Australia 2-0 lead
Sam Stosur and Anastasia Rodioniova have both won their opening singles rubbers to give Australia a 2-0 lead in their World Group II play-off against Ukraine.
Australia’s Anastasia Rodionova made an impressive Fed Cup debut, giving her adopted country a 1-0 lead by beating world No.25 Alona Bondarenko in the opening match.
Stosur lost the first three games to world No.103 Mariya Koryttseva but won the next 12 on her way to a 6-3 6-0 victory in 68 minutes to hand the away team a 2-0 lead after Day 1.
“I wasn’t nervous, she just came out swinging and I was a little bit flat and it took a little longer to get going,” Stosur said.
“The start of the match didn’t go quite the way I wanted it to but once I got that first game I felt more relaxed and comfortable.”
Russian-born Rodionova, ranked 96th in the world, fought back from a set down to win 0-6 6-3 7-5 on indoor clay in Kharkiv in two hours and eight minutes.
“Alona started really well,” Rodionova said.
“I was fighting for every ball and trying to get into the match and trying to break her rhythm and it worked.”
After her shaky start, Rodionova took an early break in deciding set.
Bondarenko fought off break point twice in the seventh game and an unforced error by Rodionova meant she had to save a break point to hold serve in the next.
Serving for the match, Rodionova committed a double fault to trail 0-30.
Bondarenko grabbed two break points with a forehand winner at the net and converted the second to level the game at 5-5.
But Rodionova made amends when she broke her opponent in the following game and then served out the match.
“Alona is a really good player, she’s been in the top 30 for a really long time and she makes you fight for everything,” Rodionova said.
“You have to beat her and I’m happy that I did.”
Rodionova’s victory follows a five-year wait to be granted Australian citizenship in December.
Australian Fed Cup Captain David Taylor was full of praise for his players.
“No I didn’t expect that we would be 2-0 but of course I am very happy we are,” Taylor said.
“I think Anastasia played a great match and for a person playing for their country for the first time it was a really, really good match.
“I think Sam today was very professional and of course she is a top 10 player and she played like a top 10 player today so to be two and zero is fantastic for Australia.”
If Australia wins it will be the first time the team has been in the World Group since 2004.
Ukraine and Australia have met once before in the Fed Cup when the Ukrainians recorded a 4-1 victory in the World Group II play-offs on the Gold Coast in 2007.
Day 2 of the tie will be telecast live on FUEL TV at 7pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time) Sunday (with 8.30-9.30pm on Fox Sports News on Sunday because of FUEL TV prior commitments).