Belarus qualified for their first Fed Cup final after building an unassailable 3-1 lead against Switzerland in Minsk.
About the tie...
Playing in their first ever Fed Cup semi-final, Belarus look to extend their fairytale run in front of their home fans inside the Chizhovka Arena in Minsk. Standing in their way is Switzerland, who are looking to erase the memories from last season, when they were knocked out in the semi-finals in heartbreaking fashion by eventual champions Czech Republic.
With two-time grand slam champion Victoria Azarenka still unavailable - but a chance to return for November’s final - Belarus will again rely on their rising lower-ranked players to get the job done, while a familiar Swiss line-up comprised of Timea Bacsinszky, Viktorija Golubic, Belinda Bencic and Martina Hingis will be aiming to guide Switzerland into a first Fed Cup final since 1998.
Both nations enjoyed impressive 4-1 victories in their respective quarter-final triumphs, but only one can advance to a final Fed Cup showdown against either reigning champions Czech Republic or the United States.
Belarus vs Switzerland Fed Cup match schedule
Belarus have qualified for their maiden Fed Cup final after building an unassailable 3-1 victory over Switzerland.
Latest Belarus vs Switzerland Fed Cup results
Aliaksandra Sasnovich(BLR) beat Viktorija Golubic (SUI) 6-3 5-7 7-5
Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) beat Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 6-4 7-5
Alianksandra Sasnovich (BLR) beat Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) 6-2 7-6
Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) beat Viktorija Golubic (SUI) 6-3 2-6 6-4
Belarus 3-2 Switzerland
With the tie locked at 1-1 heading into Sunday's reverse singles, Aliaksandra Sasnovich put Belarus ahead with a 6-2 7-6 victory over Swisss number one, Timea Bacsinszky. Sasnovich broke twice in a dominant opening set during which she did not give up any break points, and she assumed total control when she broke again in the third game of the second set. However, the world number 96 faltered as the finish line approached, failing to serve out the match twice as Bacsinszky dragged the set into a tie break.
The 23-year-old Belarusian regrouped to dominate the tie break; winning the first five points and never really relinquishing that advantage. That victory left the stage for Aryna Sabalenka to close out the tie and send her country into a first Fed Cup final.
Sabalenka had lost to Bacsinszky on Saturday, but she set about making amends in very impressive fashion, breaking Viktorija Golubic at the first time of asking. That break proved to be the difference as the Belarusian went out to close out the set to love.
Golubic hit back to take the second set, and the final set was on a knife edge until Sabalenka broke to love in the ninth game. The world number 125 served out the match with minimum of fuss to give Belarus an unassailable 3-1 lead.
Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Aryna Sabalenka, Olga Govortsova, Vera Lapko, Eduard Dubrou (captain)
Timea Bacsinszky, Viktorija Golubic, Belinda Bencic, Martina Hingis, Heinz Guenthardt (captain)
Switzerland certainly hold the edge in terms of experience heading into this semi-final tussle, with their close-knit foursome comprised of current World No. 22 Timea Bacsinszky, No. 54 Viktorija Golubic, former top 10 rising star Belinda Bencic and five-time grand slam singles champion and current doubles World No. 8 Martina Hingis.
While none of the Swiss team has been setting the tour alight in singles this year, Fed Cup is a different battleground, and Bacsinszky is coming off a pair of confidence-boosting wins over France’s Alize Cornet and Kristina Mladenovic in the quarter-finals earlier this year, while Belinda Bencic - who has just one win on tour in 2017 as she continues her long comeback from injury - registered a nice straight sets win over Pauline Parmentier.
Meanwhile, World No. 96 Aliaksandra Sasnovich comes into this tournament in great form, qualifying for WTA Biel last week and crucially posting a straight sets win over Switzerland’s Golubic on her way to the semi-finals, where she was edged in three sets by Anett Kontaveit.
Sasnovich won both her singles rubbers against the Netherlands’ Kiki Bertens and Michaella Krajicek, and she will likely be supported in singles again by 18-year-old sensation Aryna Sabalenka - one of the most powerful teenagers going around and who ultimately sealed Belarus a spot in the semi-finals with a straight sets win over Krajicek.
Fed Cup format
Fed Cup ties are played over the best of five rubbers over two days. Two singles rubbers are played on Saturday, followed by the reverse singles rubbers on Sunday with the tie going to a deciding doubles rubber if necessary.
Player nominations can be changed up until an hour before the start of play.
One nation hosts the tie, with the choice of ground decided by where the two competing teams played last time. Belarus hosts Switzerland on the indoor hardcourts of the Chizhovka Arena in Minsk
The winner of Belarus vs Switzerland will go on to face either Czech Republic or the United States in the 2017 Fed Cup final in November.
Belarus vs Switzerland: The history
Head to head: Switzerland leads Belarus 2-1
Switzerland have won the last two meetings between the two nations in 2012 and 2003, while you have to go all the way back to 1995 for Belarus’s one and only triumph.
Four players present in this upcoming semi-final tie were present in the 2012 World Group II play-off round, with Olga Govortsova getting Belarus’s only win in the opening rubber over Timea Bacsinszky before Stefanie Voegele defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Govortsova, Bacsinszky conquered Sasnovich and Belinda Bencic teamed with Amra Sadikovic to beat Sasnovich and Darya Lebesheva in the doubles.
Remarkably, Martina Hingis - who will almost certainly play doubles for Switzerland in the 2017 semi-finals - was playing in the first clash between the nations in 1995. Although Hingis lost her singles match in the Group 1, Europe/Africa round robin stage to Natalia Zvereva, she partnered Joana Manta to win the deciding doubles rubber and hand Switzerland the 2-1 win.
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