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19 April 2014

Russia romp into lead after first day in Sochi


By Richard van Poortvliet

Photo: Sergey KivrinEkaterina Makarova (RUS)

SOCHI, RUSSIA: The Russians find themselves in an excellent position after day one of their Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group play-off tie, as they lead Argentina 2-0 after the opening singles after victories for Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova.

It was the Sochi native Vesnina who was first on court and she was roared on by a partisan home crowd, which included a number of her friends and family as she took on Argentina’s No. 1, Paula Ormaechea. Things did not start well for the Russian, who dropped her serve in the opening game of the match, but she soon hit her stride, with the 21-year-old finding it difficult to cope with Vesnina’s pace and power from the baseline.

"It was a very nervous start because I didn’t know Paula and we had never played against each other and it’s a Fed Cup match and I knew I needed to get the first point for my country," Vesnina said. "I just needed a few games to get used to the surface and her game. When you have one set under your belt and you are leading, it makes a big difference."

Vesnina raced into a 4-0 lead in the second set and despite a little wobble, she calmed her nerves to seal a 63 63 victory in just over one and a quarter hours.

Ranked 71 in the world, Ormaechea would have been hoping to spring an upset, but she was gracious in defeat, adding that the better player won.

"I started well, but then she started playing really well making winners from everywhere and she was pretty consistent. It was tough out there and I knew it was going to be like this. When you are out there you are hoping that you can turn things around for your side but it wasn’t to be this time."

Ekaterina Makarova came into her clash with Maria Irigoyen admitting that she knew almost nothing about her opponent. That was certainly apparent early on as the two traded breaks midway though the first set. The Russian was having difficulty coming to terms with playing a fellow lefthander, but a crucial break in the 11th game allowed her to serve out and take the first set 75.

"I didn’t know her at all so it took some time to know how she is playing and to feel my game. At the important moment at the end of the first set I started to play more my game."

The second set proved to be equally as tight in the first few games, but the turning point was a marathon fourth game. Makarova just about managed to hold her serve despite coming under a lot of pressure and from then on, the match was a mere formality as the 25-year-old did not drop a game to take it 61 and wrap up a straight-sets victory, hitting 29 winners to her opponent's nine.

Russia finds itself in a great position after day one, and Makarova says she is just happy that her country isnt in the same situation as when it played Slovakia last year in the semifinals and was 2-0 down after the opening singles. "Last year was the opposite position, so it’s really good that we have started like that today."

Makarova is due to be first on court on Sunday against Ormaechea, and if she can beat the Argentine, she will preserve her country’s status within tennis’ elite for another year.

Follow this tie as it happens: Live scores or Watch Live

Elena Vesnina (RUS) - 19/04/2014

Paula Ormaechea (ARG) - 19/04/2014

Ekaterina Makarova (RUSA) - 19/04/2014

Maria Irigoyen (ARG) - 19/04/2014

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    • Ekaterina Makarova (RUS)Russian fans
    • Ekaterina Makarova (RUS)Maria Irigoyen (ARG)
    • Maria Irigoyen (ARG)Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) and captain Anastasia Myskina
    • Elena Vesnina (RUS)Elena Vesnina (RUS)
    • Paula Ormaechea (ARG)Paula Ormaechea (ARG) and captain Maria-Jose Gaidano
    • Elena Vesnina (RUS)Paula Ormaechea (ARG)
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