Canadian Fed Cup captain Sylvain Bruneau has selected a team that should make the Montreal tennis fans happy. Bruneau has selected two natives of Montreal to play the singles portion of the confrontation. Two young Montrealers. Françoise Abanda is 18-years-old and Eugenie Bouchard is 21-years-old. As such we have to think that the future is bright for Canada at the Fed Cup for years to come.
Despite the fact that world number 3 player, Simona Halep, would not be part of the Romanian team they are still a side to take seriously as there is depth there. Also they would very much be looking to be a part of the World Group for the first time in a long time.
Up first was Abanda against world number 33, Irina Begu. Begu is a very steady player with an equally good backhand and forehand. Abanda, currently ranked number 238, was not intimidated by the higher ranked player. The three set match was incredibly even in score and statistics.
Despite the fact that Abanda lost the first set 6-4 she demonstrated to her opponent and the crowd that she was not there just as a spectator. At times she showed that she is capable of high calibre tennis; she just needs some more experience and match play to make it happen more regularly.
Showing courage, effort and tenacity to win the second set 7-5. She battled against the higher ranked player going forehand to forehand with her. Abanda was the one who started to dictate the tempo of the match and began moving her opponent side to side at will.
At the beginning of the third set Abanda showed some signs of nervousness. She knows these first couple of games at the beginning of the deciding set are very important. Some double faults and pushing/yanking of the ball along with not moving her feet betray her nerves. Abanda has to find a way to relax her arm and play the aggressive style of tennis she did in the second set. Is now playing too defensively and showing some signs of fatigue. Trying to slow down the game and not willing to go deep into rallies by trying too many drop shots.
Abanda is broken in the first game and Begu follows that up with a hold to make it 2-0. Suddenly during the third game Begu pulls up lame with a cramp in her left calf. Abanda holds serve and during the changeover Begu receives treatment on her calf. The treatment goes long and she is forced to take a medical time out. This last about five minutes.
Interesting to see how Abanda would react to break. She has to take advantage and make her opponent move even more now. Begu will be looking for short rallies due to the cramp. Abanda earns a break right away bringing the game back on serve. 2-2.
As the game goes on it seems like Begu’s cramp seems to have gone away. Both players hold a couple of serves to make the game 4-3 for Abanda. She then breaks the Romanian in eighth game to go up 5-3. Begu breaks right back for 4-5. The break festival continues as Abanda once again breaks Begu to win the third and deciding game 6-4.
A great win for the young Canadian. Her childlike jumping around in celebration after the victory showed just that. It is the most important win of her young career and the first time she has defeated a top ranked player. Also an unexpected win for Canada to put them up 1-0 in the tie.
Eugenie Bouchard is coming into this Fed Cup while going through a rough patch. 2015 has not started off good for the number 7 ranked player in the world. She has had to deal with a couple of ankle injuries and more importantly with some very inconsistent play. Also she is up against a player she has never played against and as such does not know very well.
Alexandra Dulgheru is the 72nd ranked player in the world. Most of her games are played on the second level of professional tennis, ITF, like Canada’s Abanda. Coming into the tie Dulgheru is pretty much an x factor for Romania.
Bouchard serves first and starts off unsteady giving the Romanian two break opportunities in the 1st game. It only takes Dulgheru one to break Bouchard. 0-1. They say that turnabout is fair play, so it is only fair that Bouchard breaks Dulgheru on the Romanian’s first service game. We are back on serve at 1-1. Both players showed signs of nerves on their first service games.
Bouchard managed to hold serve in her second game, but so did Dulgheru at love. Dulgheru continued her strong play as Bouchard’s number of unforced errors continued to rise. The Romanian broke the Canadian in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead and followed it up by being broken by Genie to even things up at 3-3. Neither player was producing anything of high calibre consistently. This is to be expected of someone of Dulgheru’s ranking not Bouchard’s.
Trying to right the ship, Bouchard had a solid serving game and pulled ahead 4-3. That was the last win in the first set for the Montrealer. Dulgheru rolled off three straight games to win the first set 6-4.
The second game pretty much went the same way the first one did. Errors on the part of Bouchard continued and Dulgheru continued her steady play. Despite an interminable set point on Dulgheru’s serve Bouchard pushed another forehand long to seal her fate. The Romanian took the second game 6-4. Romania had managed to tie the score after the first day 1-1.
Bouchard seems completely lost on the court and seemingly without any solutions to her problems. Anyone watching her play on Saturday could see how tense she seemed. Never looked comfortable or confident while playing. It doesn’t seem like she or her coach have identified the problem that she can work on to fix. Is it mental? Is it just a case of winning too much too early and crumbling under the pressure of the expectations of an entire nation heaped on her? Is it a question of adjusting to stardom? The answers to all these questions have to be found.
The top ranked Canadian female tennis player of all time has admitted to not being a patient person and that showed on this day on the court. She was trying to go for the big shots to early in the rally instead of putting in the work to create something foolproof. Her shots were spraying all over the court with many balls going long or wide. Her footwork was suspect and she seemed to by yanking the ball instead of hitting it. There was also a crazy amount of balls that she hit off the frame of her racket; a telltale sign that her timing is off.
Canada is attempting to maintain in position in elite eight-team World Group for 2016. In tomorrow’s games the players will swap opponents in the singles and if needed the tie will be decided by a double match in which Gabriela Dabrowski and Sharon Fichman will take on Andreea Mitu and Raluca Olaru.