Gavrilova, Barty lead Australia in singles
Daria Gavrilova and Ash Barty will lead the Aussies into Fed Cup battle in Kharkiv when they take on Lesia Tsurenko and Elina Svitolina respectively in singles.
Daria Gavrilova and Ash Barty will spearhead Australia’s singles attack against Ukraine in their Fed Cup World Group II first-round tie in Kharkiv.
At the draw ceremony on Friday, Gavrilova – the Aussie No.1 in the absence of Sam Stosur – was scheduled to play second-ranked Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko, while top Ukrainian Svitolina found herself up against Barty.
The players will switch opponents in Sunday’s reverse singles – Gavrilova v Svitolina, Barty v Tsurenko – before a doubles rubber pitting Barty and Casey Dellacqua against Nadiia Kichenok and Olga Savchuk.
“We didn’t expect me to be the No. 1,” Gavrilova told fedcup.com. “We are all missing Sam. It is a good opportunity for me to represent my country, do my best. I’m very excited.”
Barty, back in the Fed Cup fold for the first time since 2014, said she was keen to carry her momentum from the Australian Open – where she made the third round – into the team competition.
“These are the best weeks of the year for us and Fed Cup brings out the best of me,” Barty told fedcup.com.
“I hope we can keep the ball rolling from the Australian summer (Barty also reached the second round in Brisbane) and play some good tennis and see how we go on the weekend.”
Svitolina, playing Fed Cup again after sitting out 2016, was wary of Barty, the world No.156 who is rapidly rising up the rankings in the second phase of her career after retiring from the sport for almost two years.
“I saw almost all of [Barty’s] matches in Australia because she played on the big courts,” Svitolina said.
“She was playing very well and, of course, the crowd was helping her a lot. Here it is a bit different situation. The crowd will be 100% for me, so it will be different conditions for her. Hopefully is going to be a good match.”
Enjoying a five-tie winning streak, Ukraine has not lost a Fed Cup clash since 2015. In 2016, the nation went undefeated in zonal group play before winning a World Group II Play-off tie against Argentina to take their place at this stage of the competition.
A loss would see Australia drop to the World Group II Play-off stage for the first time since 2009.