Dutch pleased to be in Fed Cup hunt
Captain Paul Haarhuis admitted he was "very pleased" with the fact his Netherlands Fed Cup team was locked at 1-1 with hosts Australia after the first day of play in Wollongong.
The Netherlands are in with a chance of a monumental upset after keeping level with Australia on day one of their Fed Cup World Group Play-off in Wollongong.
The two teams are locked at one rubber apiece heading into Sunday’s reverse singles, after Ash Barty hauled the Aussies back into the tie with a storming win over lowly ranked Cup debutante Quirine Lemoine.
The Australian No.1 needed only 68 minutes to swat aside Lemoine 6-0 6-2, after Sam Stosur suffered a shock 7-5 7-6(1) loss to world No.210 Lesley Kerkhove in Saturday’s opening match.
Without their top four players, including French Open semifinalist Kiki Bertens, the depleted Dutch were given no hope of retaining their place in the eight-nation World Group for 2019.
“We didn’t expect anything from this,” Kerkhove confessed.
But jubilant captain Paul Haarhuis believes anything’s possible, heading into the reverse singles and a potentially tie-deciding doubles showdown.
“I’m very pleased that it’s one-all when we start and it’s not our last chance to crawl back into it,” Haarhuis said.
“We can take the lead tomorrow in the first match. It’s a good feeling.”
Barty, the highest-ranked player in the tie, faces Kerkhove in Sunday’s opening encounter.
“It will be a tough match but Lesley has confidence from what she did today so it should be fun,” Haarhuis said.
But it’s Sunday’s second match which the visitors believe could leave the doubles between Barty and Stosur and Dutch duo Demi Schuurs and Indy de Vroome as anything but a dead rubber.
Australian captain Alicia Molik has already revealed Daria Gavrilova will replace Stosur and play Lemoine to keep the former US Open champion fresh for doubles.
That’s fine by the underdogs, who believe the world No.295 can fashion a boilover regardless.
“We’re ready for whoever shows up and whoever is nominated,” Haarhuis said.
“But we’re not going to change anything. I feel good about how the girls played.
“The scoreline with Quirine and Ashleigh didn’t really reflect like how the match was. Ashleigh played really well. I think she played a flawless match. I was really impressed with her level and her game, but also her footwork and everything basically – and still she (Quirine) had seven games with game points.
“If she plays like that tomorrow, her opponent won’t play like Ashleigh did. I feel confident about that.”
Eyeing a return to the World Group for the first time since 2015, the Australian camp is equally confident.
“We’re in a great position tomorrow to win the tie,” Barty said.
“We’re still in with more than a chance and I feel like we’ve got the team to be able to get the job done.”