Fed Cup 2009, Ukraine advanced to the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group



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Monday April 27, 2009


Fed Cup 2009, Ukraine advanced to the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group

Ukraine advanced to the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group for the first time with an emphatic 5-0 win over Argentina in the coastal resort of Mar del Plata.

The Ukrainian team promised themselves two years ago that they would reach the World Group. Now they have done it, and their No. 1 player Alona Bondarenko says their dream is to win it. But do they have what it takes to do so?

The Bondarenko sisters, who won the Australian Open doubles title back in 2008, lead a nicely balanced group of players. Alona Bondarenko is a regular Top 50 player, having even reached No. 19 in the world, while her sister Kateryna and Maria Koryttseva are regular Top 100 players, and Olga Savchuk is barely outside the Top 100 in the world.

Alona is a solid player who may possibly win many of her matches, but the rest of the team did not show the same strength. Koryttseva saved her match against Cravero in the nick of time, and Savchuk did not play against qualified opponents. Perhaps Kateryna Bondarenko may be the piece her sister Alona needs to complete the threat they may pose at the teams at World Group level.

Argentina, on the other hand, displayed a very different roster. The usual No. 1, Gisela Dulko, announced early on she would be unavailable for this tie – and she’s the only Top 100 player in the Argentinean team. Of the other two Top 200 players in Argentina, Betina Jozami was injured last week, leaving Jorgelina Cravero, No. 156 in the world, as the nominal No. 1. The rest of the team featured Maria Irigoyen, No. 399; Aranza Salut, No. 421, and Paula Ormaechea, No. 838. And both Salut and Ormaechea are still juniors.

All these rankings clearly show what the difference between both opponents was: an experienced team, used to a high level competition, and a team divided into expecting the veterans to do whatever they could, and giving the juniors a try to see what they are truly made of.

The gamble almost paid off in the first match, when Cravero should have won over Koryttseva. When that didn’t work, everything went down for Argentina, and the outcome would not be put in doubt, showing the very different moments both teams are facing in the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas.

The South Americans have clearly understood the messages this tie sent them: they can’t depend only on Gisela Dulko, and their more experienced players just don’t have the power needed to carry the challenges of being in the World Group.

Ricardo Rivera, the captain, explained they will take their time to pick the best of their girls between 14 and 17 years old and give them experience in order to build a strong team for the future. “I don’t care if we have to return to the American Zone to achieve it; if we have to, we will”.

Argentina has always produced top players, but is still looking for another heir to Gabriela Sabatini, Paola Suarez and Gisela Dulko – let’s just hope it doesn’t take too long.

The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour is the world’s leading professional sport for women with more than 2,200 players representing 96 nations competing for more than $86 million in prize money at the Tour’s 51 events and four Grand Slams in 31 countries. More than 4.8 million people attended women’s tennis events in 2008 with millions more watching events on television networks around the world. The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour season concludes with the Sony Ericsson Championships – Doha 2009 in Doha, Qatar, from October 27-November 1, and the inaugural Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions in Bali, Indonesia from November 4-8. Further information on the Tour can be found on the Internet at www.sonyericssonwtatour.com




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