Fed Cup: Australia to combat red-hot Svitolina
Australia's Fed Cup team faces the prospect of an away tie against a Ukrainian team spearheaded by the surging Elina Svitolina.
Australia’s Fed Cup team will have their work cut out stopping Ukrainian No.1 Elina Svitolina, who clinched her fifth title by winning the Taiwan Open on Sunday.
The Australians are already without their top-ranked player Sam Stosur, who is skipping the tie in snowbound Kharkiv to try and find some form on the WTA Tour.
Daria Gavrilova, who at world No.26 is ranked four places lower than Stosur, will lead the charge with Ash Barty to take the other singles role and then combine with Casey Dellacqua in the doubles.
Destanee Aiava, 16, was named as a hitting partner as a reward for her strong form during the summer but missed the trip to the Ukraine through illness.
Arina Rodionova is the other member of the squad for the first round of World Group II, with the winning team to contest the World Group Play-off tie in April.
The Ukraine team is world No.13 Svitolina, Lesia Tsurenko (54), and doubles specialists Nadiia Kichenoko and Olga Savchuk.
Svitolina crushed Stosur’s quarterfinal victor China’s Peng Shuai 6-3 6-2 to take the Taiwan title on Sunday.
Gavrilova, who made the fourth round of the Australian Open, has a 2-2 head to head record against Svitolina, having beaten her twice in three meetings last year.
Gavrilova, who was a second round loser in St Petersburg last week, was impressed by Australia’s Davis Cup win over the Czech Republic in Melbourne.
“Well done boys!!! Now it’s our turn girls! @ashbar96 @caseydellacqua @arinarodionova! See you all very soon in Kharkiv ????,” she tweeted.
The last time Australia and the Ukraine met was in the World Group Play-off in 2011 in Melbourne.
Jarmila Wolfe won both her singles matches but Anastasia Rodionova fell in both of hers and they suffered a tight loss in the doubles.