Whether it’s facing the prospect of playing three matches in two days or competing against higher-ranked opponents away from home, the pros participating in the opening round of the Fed Cup know the road to victory from the first round on can be treacherous.
Here’s a look at eight players since the turn of the century that rose to the occasion and spurred their team on to victory.
Karolina Pliskova, Czech Republic
As a young player who had been steadily making her way up the rankings, Pliskova appeared to be the perfect complementary teammate to two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in singles. In 2016 in the first round against Romania, Pliskova showed herself to be Kvitova’s equal. Playing on the road, Pliskova won her two singles rubbers and the doubles with Barbora Strycova to account for the three winning points in the tie.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Russia
Making one of her occasional forays into Fed Cup, Maria Sharapova was on the team that hosted France in the first round in 2011. The Russian lost to Virginie Razzano in the second rubber, staking the French to a 2-0 lead. Pavlyuchenkova subbed in for Sharapova and started the comeback for the team, capped by her win in doubles with Svetlana Kuznetsova, which clinched the win for Russia.
Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic, France
Playing against four-time champion Italy on the road would’ve been a daunting test for any nation in 2015. France found itself in that situation and went down 2-0 after the opening singles matches. Mladenovic and Garcia turned things around with wins in the next two singles rubbers, then took the doubles to complete the comeback.
Conchita Martinez, Spain
In 2004, Fed Cup powerhouse Spain was down 1-0 at home to Switzerland after the first singles rubber. The veteran Martinez then won her next singles matches to give Spain the lead, but Switzerland took the fourth rubber to level the tie. Martinez once again took the court, this time in doubles, and clinched the encounter with Virginia Ruano Pascual.
Belinda Bencic, Switzerland
Teenagers usually aren’t expected to win an opening Fed Cup rubber away from friendly confines, but Bencic defied that conventional train of thought by topping Andrea Petkovic in 2016. She then won her reverse-singles match against another top-10-caliber player, Angelique Kerber. Going into the doubles, the score was even at 2-2: Bencic then teamed with the Hall of Famer Martina Hingis to put the tie away.
Bojana Jovanovski, Serbia
After the first three rubbers in Serbia’s away tie versus Belgium, the host team was up 2-1. Jovanovski, who lost her opening match, won her reverse singles rubber to level the tie. Then, she and Aleksandra Krunic wrapped up the comeback with a three-set doubles win to push their country into the quarterfinals.
Barbara Rittner, Germany
By 2002, Russia’s depth on the WTA Tour was evident, spearheaded by Elena Dementieva and Anastasia Myskina. The two players, in their early 20s, faced off against Germany in their opening tie. However, it was the veteran Rittner who shocked her more-accomplished younger opponents, beating them both in singles and then partnering with Marlene Weingartner to complete Germany’s victory.
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