Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Bacsinszky beats wasp sting as Fed Cup hots up


PARIS: Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky overcame being stung by a wasp to beat French rival Alize Cornet in the Fed Cup as three of the four World Group ties ended all-square on Saturday. The Swiss were 1-1 against France in Geneva while defending champions the Czech Republic also split the opening rubbers with Spain in Ostrava as did top-flight debutants Belarus against the Netherlands in Minsk. The United States were closing in on a 2-0 lead over Germany when rain halted action in Hawaii. Bacsinszky downed Cornet 7-5, 6-4 but only after needing treatment when she was stung on her arm by a wasp at 3-3 in the first set of the clash at Geneva’s Palexpo arena. The Swiss number one immediately dunked her left elbow in a courtside bucket of water before leaving the court for further treatment on the sting. When she returned, she broke Cornet’s serve before going on to secure eventual victory on a fourth match point. “Who would have thought that we would have wasps in Switzerland in February,” said Bacsinszky, the world number 16. “It hurt a lot but maybe it will give me super powers on Sunday.” She added: “The last time I got stung was a long time ago, and I ended up in hospital, so I had a little panic today.” France, the runners-up to the Czechs last season, eventually levelled the quarter-final when 23rd-ranked Kristina Mladenovic eased past her best friend Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-4. The reverse singles and doubles take place on Sunday with the eventual winners to face either Belarus or the Dutch for a place in the final.

The Czechs were tied 1-1 with Spain after number-one players Karolina Pliskova and Garbine Muguruza won their opening rubbers. World number seven Muguruza, the French Open champion, beat 17th-ranked Barbora Strycova 6-0, 3-6, 6-1 before third-ranked Pliskova levelled the tie after seeing off world number 70 Lara Arruabarrena 6-4, 7-5. The Czechs are seeking their fourth straight Fed Cup title after winning five of the last six editions of the team competition. Spain last won the trophy in 1998. The home side are without 12th-ranked two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova who is recovering from a hand injury she suffered when fighting a knife-wielding burglar last December. The winners of the tie will face either 17-time champions United States or Germany who are playing in Hawaii. Alison Riske put the Americans up 1-0 with a 7-6 (12/10), 6-2 victory over Andrea Petkovic, in a tie that started on an awkward note when an outdated version of the German national anthem was performed. “The USTA extends a sincere apology to the German Fed Cup team & fans 4 the outdated National Anthem,” the US Tennis Association said in a tweet after a stanza of the anthem that dates back to World War II — long dropped by Germany — was sung. “This mistake will not occur again.” It was the start of a tough day for Germany. After Riske’s win America’s shock Australian Open semi-finalist CoCo Vandeweghe took a 6-3, 3-1 lead over Julia Goerges before rain stopped play for the day — Goerges also tweaking a knee when she slipped on a rain-slicked baseline. In Minsk, Kiki Bertens rallied from a set down to beat Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus to draw the Dutch level at 1-1. World number 24 Bertens won 3-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-4 in her first ever meeting with the 18-year-old Belarusian. Earlier, Aliaksandra Sasnovich, ranked 128th, put Belarus into the lead as she battled back from a set down to beat Michaella Krajicek 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

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