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2019 Fed Cup semi-final, Rubber 1
Australia vs Belarus
Pat Rafter Arena, Brisbane
Samantha Stosur (Australia) vs Aryna Sabalenka (Belarus)
Samantha Stosur and Aryna Sabalenka will kick-off the Fed Cup semi-final between Australia and Belarus, and with the tie expected to be tight, it’ll be crucial for both teams. Join The Roar for live scores of the first rubber from 1pm (AEDT).
There isn’t much between these two nations, so the one nothing lead early on will be crucial in easing the pressure for Ashleigh Barty and Victoria Azarenka, who will take the court in the second rubber.
Stosur is an interesting selection for Australia, with the veteran in inconsistent form to say the least. While Daria Garilova and Priscilla Hon sit on the sideline watching on, the 35-year-old will need to draw on all her experience to get the job done against Sabalenka.
In saying that, Stosur had a solid run at her most recent tournament in Miami, cruising past Evgeniya Rodina in the first round, then battling past Madison Keys in three sets.
She eventually fell to Ashleigh Barty, but Stosur was serving well during that tournament, and will need that to continue moving forward if she is to contend with Sabalenka.
Before that though, she was out in the first round at Indian Wells against Madison Brengle, then got smoked in straight sets by Karolina Muchova after qualifying in Dubai.
As we know, Stosur’s game is built off her serve, and if that fires, then she is a chance.
On the other end of the court, Sabalenka – rated as one of the fastest rising prospects on the women’s tour – has also been a little inconsistent in recent times.
She made the third round of the Australian Open this year and followed it up with a semi-final appearance in St Petersburg, but has since struggled, including losing a match she should have won quite easily against Alja Tomljanovic in Miami.
Sabalenka sometimes struggles with her movement around the court, and so Stosur must keep her on the run throughout the contest, working the ball into the corners and hitting with accuracy.
If the Belarussian can’t serve well and put Stosur on the back foot early in points, then she will have major problems, however, she was a career-high rank of No.9 in February, and got there for a reason.
Even with her form a little up and down, Stosur is prone to a collapse, especially on home soil.
The pair have had one previous meeting, with Sabalenka winning their first-round encounter at New Haven 6-3, 6-2 last year.
Stosur has home court advantage, but she has found ways to lose matches from all sorts of positions in 2019, so it’s tough to tip here against someone like Sabalenka, with the 20-year-old Belarusian one of the fastest-rising prospects in the sport.
Sabalenka in three sets.
Be sure to join The Roar for live coverage of this first rubber at the Fed Cup semi-finals from 1pm (AEDT) and don’t forget to add a comment in the section below.
Start time: 1pm (AEDT)
Venue: Pat Rafter Arena, Brisbane
TV: Live, 9Gem
Online: Live, 9Now
Betting: Australia $1.87, Belarus $1.87
Overall record: Played 1, Sabalenka 1, Stosur 0
Last meeting: 2018 New Haven 1st round – Sabalenka defeat Stosur 6-3, 6-2
Samantha Stosur last 10 matches: won 4, lost 6
Aryna Sabalenka last 10 matches: won 5, lost 5