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20 December 2013

Top 5 moments of 2013 - Russia and Sweden's incredible comebacks


NEWS ARTICLE

Photo: Golovanov/KivrinEkaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina (RUS)

We take a look back at the best moments of what was another fantastic year for Fed Cup by BNP Paribas – at No. 1 is Russia and Sweden’s comebacks from 0-2 down.

It has happened just six times in history and yet this year there were two separate occasions where teams fought back from losing the opening two rubbers to win the tie 3-2.

Let’s start with Russia’s fantastic revival against Slovak Republic in the World Group semifinals in April.

As hosts, Russia went into their clash with the Slovaks full of confidence. They had a strong team led by Maria Kirilenko and were up against a Slovak side that included the out-of-form Daniela Hantuchova.

The first day was all about the visitors, however, as Hantuchova proved why she is an Australian Open semifinalist with a 62 64 victory over Kirilenko, after Dominika Cibulkova had battled past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 57 61 64.

Day two was a totally different affair. Kirilenko found the kind of form that has seen her rise into the Top 10 this year and kept her team alive with a 75 61 win against Cibulkova in the battle of the No. 1 singles players to leave the stage set for Hantuchova to clinch the tie.

Russia captain Shamil Tarpischev rolled the dice and tinkered with his team, bringing in the fresh Ekaterina Makarova to contest the fourth rubber and the move proved genius.

Lefthander Makarova caused problems for Hantuchova and found herself forcing a decisive fifth after she defeated the Slovak 63 46 64.

Both players who had played that fourth rubber were then called back to contest the doubles with Makarova and Elena Vesnina going up against Cibulkova and Hantuchova.

The result was heartbreaking for the Slovaks who let slip a 2-0 lead on the opening day and a chance to reach a first Fed Cup final since 2002.

For the Russians the joy was palpable. Makarova had shown herself to be the hero of the hour and together with Vesnina danced with delight after clinching the doubles rubber 46 63 61 and with it the tie 3-2.


The second example of the 0-2 comeback came in the World Group II first round in Buenos Aires last February.

Argentina were hosting Sweden at Parque Roca and on paper this one looked like it was always going to be close.

The South Americans were led from the front by Paula Ormaechea on her favoured clay against a Swedish team that included Sofia Arvidsson and Johanna Larsson.

The first day saw the hosts take a 2-0 lead after Ormaechea defeated Larsson 63 60 and Florencia Molinero made a mockery of her ranking to overcome Sofia Arvidsson 63 26 61.

The Swedish team celebratingFacing a huge challenge didn’t deter the Swedes and they fought their way back into the tie in part due to an unfortunate injury to Argentina’s No. 1.

With the score one-set all and 3-2 to Arvidsson, Ormaechea tore a ligament and couldn’t stand the pain, retiring with tears in her eyes and repeatedly apologising to the home fans.

That set the stage for the turnaround. Larsson played to her level to defeat Molinero 63 62 before the Swedish duo of Arvidsson and Larsson defeated Maria Irigoyen and Mailen Auroux 64 64 to complete the comeback.

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RUS Flag Russia v Slovak Republic SVK Flag 20-21 Apr 2013 View details

ARG Flag Argentina v Sweden SWE Flag 9-10 Feb 2013 View details

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