Hobart, Australia – Australia took a firm grip on their Fed Cup first round tie against a young and inexperienced Russian team Saturday, racing to an easy 2-0 lead.
The Russians, losing finalists last year, have been shorn of their big names for the clash at the Domain Tennis Centre in Hobart, missing their 13 top players, and the home team took full advantage.
World number 16 Samantha Stosur saw off unknown 16-year-old Veronika Kudermetova, ranked 650th in the world, 6-4, 6-0.
Earlier, Casey Dellacqua put Australia 1-0 in front with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Irina Khromacheva, the only one of the four Russians who has competed in the world team event before, stepping into the second singles spot when Russia lost to Italy in the 2013 final
Russia, boasting better players, have won the last three meetings between the two nations but Australia are now in the box seat to make their first Fed Cup semi-final since 1993.
“We've definitely got to stay focused up until we get that third win,” said Stosur, who did not have it all her own way against Kudermetova
“There's still nothing for them to lose.”
Kudermetova was the more impressive of the two Russians, regularly clocking serves over 180 kph (113 mph) to keep Stosur on her toes before the Australian veteran's experience came to the fore.
Russian captain Anastasia Myskina, a former world number two, said she believes the 16-year-old has a lot of promise.
“She can do very well,” Myskina said.
“She looks when she plays like Maria (Sharapova) a little bit, also really aggressive, good serving, returning.”
On Sunday, Dellacqua will face Kudermetova while Stosur will be up against Khromacheva.
Ashleigh Barty and Dellacqua will play the doubles leg against Victoria Kan and Valeria Solovyeva. – Sapa-AFP