Switzerland look set to qualify for April's Fed Cup Finals, as they take a commanding 2-0 lead into the second day of their qualifier against a depleted Canadian team.
Switzerland vs Canada is live from Biel on Saturday 8 February from 1pm local/12pm GMT
Location: Biel, Switzerland
Venue: Swiss Tennis Arena
Surface: Hard Indoor
Switzerland: Jil Teichmann, Viktorija Golubic, Stefanie Voegele, Timea Bacsinszky Heinz Gueenthardt (captain)
Canada: Bianca Andreescu, Leylah Annie Fernandes, Eugenie Bouchard, Gabriela Dabrowski, Heidi El Tabakh (captain)
Switzerland vs Canada: The draw
Friday 7 February:
Rubber 1: Jil Teichmann (SUI) d. Leylah Annie Fernandes (CAN) 7-6 6-4
Rubber 2: Belinda Bencic (SUI) d. Gabriela Dabrowski (CAN) 6-1 6-2
Saturday 8 February:
Rubber 3: Belinda Bencic (SUI) vs Leylah Annie Fernandes (CAN)
Rubber 4: Jil Teichmann (SUI) vs Gabriela Dabrowski (CAN)
Rubber 5: Viktorija Golubic/ Stefanie Voegele (SUI) vs Bianca Andreescu/ Gabriela Dabrowski (CAN)
NB: Player nominations can change until an hour before the start of play
Day 1 Results
Jil Teichmann bt. Leylah Annie Fernandez 7-6 6-4
Belinda Bencic bt. Gabriela Dabrowski 6-1 6-2
Already without their No. 1 player and US Open champion, Bianca Andreescu, who isn’t quite ready for a return to singles action despite being included in the squad, Canada were dealt another big blow just before the start of play as former Wimbledon finalist, Eugenie Bouchard withdrew with a left wrist injury.
That left the North Americans with world No. 185, Leylah Annie Fernandez and world No. 448, Gabriela Dabrowski as their nominated singles players for the day.
Switzerland, on the other hand, had the luxury of their top two players, with Belinda Bencic and Jil Teichmann turning out for the hosts in Beil. Unsurprisingly, the Swiss made their advantage count with a pair of straight sets wins, taking a 2-0 lead to move within a win of qualification for the Finals in April.
Day 2 Preview
Belinda Bencic (SUI) vs Leylah Annie Fernandez (CAN), live from Biel on Saturday, 8 February from 1:00pm local time/ 12:00pm GMT
Swiss No. 1, Belinda Bencic will look to wrap up victory for her country on Saturday when she faces Canadian young gun, Leylah Annie Fernandez in the first rubber of the day.
Bencic was initially scheduled to take on former top-five star, Eugenie Bouchard in her first match on Friday, but following Bouchard’s withdrawal, she was faced with Dabrowski- a player ranked 433 spots below her.
Bencic was never really troubled, cruising to a 6-1 6-2 victory in just an hour. The world No. 5 won 81% of points on her first serve, and 50% on her second, saving the two break points she faced. She struck 19 winners and just 12 unforced errors, and broke twice in each set to ease to her 10th Fed Cup singles win (10-4 win-loss record).
Following a superb 2019, during which she claimed titles in Dubai and Moscow, made a maiden Grand Slam semi-final at the US Open and qualified for the season-ending WTA Finals for the first time in her career, Bencic has made a steady, if unspectacular start to the new season.
The 22-year-old was beaten by Anna Blinkova in her first match of 2020 in Shenzhen, but she has since made a quarter final in Adelaide and the third round of the Australian Open (she was crushed 6-0 6-1 by Anett Kontaveit in Melbourne).
She got back to winning ways by beating Dabrowski on Friday, and will expect to finish off the tie when she goes up against rising star, Fernandez on Saturday.
Despite losing to Teichmann on Friday, 17-year-old Fernandez gave a fine account of herself, and a further glimpse of what is to come in future.
The reigning Roland Garros girls’ champion pushed Teichmann to a tie break in the opening set, and twice lead by a break in the second set, but she couldn’t quite hold on to her advantage, falling 7-6 6-4 after an hour and a half.
Fernandez has now lost both of her two Fed Cup singles rubbers, but that first win surely cannot be too far away.
Apart from winning the French Open junior title last year, the young gun also made the finals at the Australian Open juniors, won an ITF W25 title in Gatineau (her first ITF title), and made finals in Granby and Waco. She more than halved her ranking in 2019, finishing at 212th having begun the year at 434th. She has broken into the top 200 for the first time this year, after qualifying for the main draw of the Australian Open- her first Grand Slam main draw.
Fernandes has got a massive task on Saturday, as she’s required to beat the No. 5 player in the world to keep her country in the 2020 Fed Cup. The Canadian teenager is a great talent, but not yet at the level of taking down a player of Bencic’s calibre.
Jil Teichmann (SUI) vs Gabriela Dabrowski (CAN), to follow
With Belinda Bencic likely to defeat youngster, Leylah Annie Fernandez in the opening rubber of the day, this looks like being a dead rubber. However, if required, Teichmann will be a heavy favourite to take down Dabrowski in the scheduled second rubber of the day.
Making her Fed Cup debut, the Swiss was made to work very hard by Fernandez in the opening rubber on Friday, but she came through several tough periods to give Switzerland the lead. She was broken while serving for the first set, and then found herself 3-1 down in the ensuing breaker before winning six of the next seven points squeeze out the set.
She twice had to come back from a break in the second set, but the two-time WTA titlist kept her cool to come through 7-6 6-4.
After claiming titles in Prague and Palermo last season, Teichmann has been slow off the blocks in 2020. She won her first match of the year in Auckland, beating Valentina Ivanov, but she lost her next three matches, including first round defeats in Hobart and the Australian Open.
Having snapped that streak with victory over Fernandez, she can make it two from two against Dabrowski on Saturday.
Dabrowski was thumped into the line of fire on Friday, facing off against Bencic, and the result wasn’t unexpected, as she fell to a 6-1 6-2 defeat.
Dabrowski is more of a doubles specialist these days, and has not featured in a WTA singles main draw since Tokyo in 2018. She last won a tour-level singles main draw match in Rabat in May 2017.
The 27-year-old has a career-high ranking of 164th, attained in 2014, but she has been ranked outside the top-200 since July 2015. She is 0-4 in Fed cup singles matches, (7-6 in doubles), and had not played a singles match in the team event since the World Group play-off against Ukraine in April 2018.
It’s hard to see her getting past Teichmann on Saturday.
Rubber 5: Viktorija Golubic/ Stefanie Voegele (SUI) vs Bianca Andreescu/ Gabriela Dabrowski (CAN). to follow
Canada have pencilled down Bianca Andreescu for the doubles rubber, alongside Dabrowski, but even if it comes down to this, and Andreescu play, it will be asking a lot of the US Open champion to step up in first match of the year and inspire Canada into the Fed Cup Finals.
The Swiss do look like they hold all the aces on Saturday.