Francoise Abanda levelled Canada’s Fed Cup World Group II play-off tie against Kazakhstan on Saturday, beating Yaroslava Shvedova 6-3, 6-4 at Uniprix Stadium in Montreal.
The win leaves both countries with everything to play for on Sunday tied 1-1 in the best-of-five series. The winning nation advances to an upper tier of ITF’s international team competition.
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Earlier in the day Yulia Putintseva beat Bianca Andreescu in a long and competitive affair to give Kazakhstan the early lead. Abanda pulled the visitors back in the second match, setting the tone midway through the first set.
Up 3-2, Abanda had three chances to break Shvedova on serve and managed it on the third attempt firing a forehand winner down the line. A few minutes later serving for the set, Abanda faced fierce resistance from Shvedova, until eventually a long game ended when the Kazakh player missed the baseline on a return for Canada’s one-set lead.
Shvedova made 18 of her 32 unforced errors in the first set to just nine (of 20) for a far more disciplined Abanda, who was feeding off the home crowd as it grew more encouraged. The Canadian also landed three aces to take the opening set in 36 minutes.
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Abanda quickly went up a break in the second set and consolidated to lead 2-0 as five more unforced errors haunted Shvedova. The Kazakh had to work hard to hold her next service game, but once she did, Shvedova found an extra kick and got her first break point of the match to pull even at 2-2.
Abanda’s response to being broken was swift. The Canadian worked her way to another break point at and when the time came, fired a devastating forehand that painted the baseline, the ball leaving Shvedova stranded and Abanda back on top. There were a few more moments of attrition rest of the way, but the Canadian generally looked comfortable, taking 44 minutes to end the second set.
Ranked 186th in the WTA, Abanda played like a top-50 player on Saturday, firmly in control for much of the match against world number 51 Shvedova. Abanda won four of her six break point opportunities while Shvedova converted just two of seven chances, both coming in the second set.
Here's how to stream Fed Cup by BNP Paribas action this weekend on Sportsnet Now as Canada takes on Kazakhstan in Montreal. #GoCanada
Posted by Tennis Canada on Saturday, April 22, 2017
On Sunday, Abanda will open for Canada against Putintseva, while Andreescu will return to face Shvedova right after. Should the teams split the singles decisions once more, a doubles match will decide the tie.
All matches are being streamed live on Sportsnet Now nationally, and shown on TVA2 in Quebec.