Fed Cup WG 1: Belarus vs Germany, Rubber 1
?? Aryna Sabalenka vs ?? Tatjana Maria
Belarus begin their 2018 Fed Cup campaign against an understrength German side, back at the scene of last year’s narrow final loss to the USA. The Belarussian team were the fairy tale story of last year’s Fed Cup, can they emulate last year’s heroics or will the pressure get to the young team? Aryna Sabalenka will open the tie against Tatjana Maria, an interesting contrast in styles.
Aryna Sabalenka made a big name for herself during Fed Cup action last year. Sabalenka was an important part of the Belarussian team that defied the odds to reach the final. Sabalenka clinched victory in the critical rubber in the quarter-finals and semi-finals last year, seeming very well suited to the Fed Cup atmosphere. Sabalenka ended 2017 on a high and carried that form into 2018 where she reached the quarter-finals in Shenzhen and Hobart before losing to Ash Barty from a set up in the opening round at the Australian Open.
Tatjana Maria will take part in a Fed Cup tie for the first time since 2011. Tatjana is the highest ranked player in a German team missing several stars. The German has not won a match in 2018, suffering 4 consecutive opening round defeats. It will be interesting to see how the 30-year-old handles this opportunity, a rare chance to lead her nation into battle on the biggest stage.
The only previous match between the pair ended in a 6-3 7-5 victory for Sabalenka on a hard court in Tashkent last year.