Françoise Abanda toppled a much higher ranked player for the second straight day, beating Yulia Putintseva 6-3, 6-3 in Montreal on Sunday.
The win gives Canada a 2-1 lead in the Fed Cup World Group II play-off tie against Kazakhstan with both wins coming courtesy of Abanda. On Saturday, she disposed of Yaroslava Shvedova in straight sets to keep Canada’s hope alive at STADE IGA in the best-of-five series. After her latest exploit, Canada is now a win away from moving up a tier in ITF’s top international women’s team competition.
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Shvedova is ranked 51st in the WTA, while Putintseva is the world number 31. Favourites to win their respective ties, the two Kazakhs could not find any way to negotiate around Abanda, the 20-year-old ranked 186th in the world.
In Sunday’s match neither player could hold serve until the fourth game when Putintseva consolidated to go up a break. Abanda – who made just nine in the first set the previous day – had already registered seven unforced errors at this point, and was struggling to deal with Putintseva’s slices dropping ever-so-slightly out of the Canadian’s reach.
When it seemed the Kazakh had the momentum, Putintseva double faulted to put Abanda on three break points at love-40. After pulling one back, Putintseva watched helplessly as Abanda smashed a backhand winner down the line to level the set 3-3. The Canadian then saved four break points to remain on serve, before breaking Putintseva for the third time to take a commanding 5-3 lead en route to a one set advantage.
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The second set started as disjointedly for Putintseva as the first one had ended, the Kazakh firing a backhand well past the baseline to lose serve in the opening game. When Abanda managed to consolidate to go up 2-0 in the second, Putintseva smashed her racquet multiple times in frustration, clearly troubled by her Canadian counterpart’s consistency.
Abanda put the match away on another break point, firing a forehand winner down the line to the crowd’s approval, wrapping up the set and match at Putintseva’s expense.
Abanda winning five of eight break points to just two of eight for her opponent, along with some impeccably placed backhand winners (12 in total), made the difference in the match for the Canadian, even though she made more unforced errors (29-16).
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Canada will now hope to close out the tie with 16-year-old Bianca Andreescu (world no. 188) in the fourth and final singles rubber. On Saturday, Putintseva beat the Canadian teen in three sets, requiring two hours and 43 minutes. Kazakhstan will turn to Shvedova to keep itself in the tie.
Should Kazakhstan win the next match, a doubles competition will settle the tie, with Canada ready to deploy specialist Gabriela Dabrowski alongside 18-year-old Katherine Sebov.
The matches are being streamed live on Sportsnet Now nationally and being shown on TVA2 in Quebec.