By Jake Davies
- Germany and Ukraine play for the first time since 2004 at Fed Cup
- Rittner chooses Goerges and Kerber to lead in singles, while Ukraine nominate Elina Svitolina and Lesia Tsurenko.
STUTTGART, GERMANY – While the Fed Cup semi-finals might be missing the big names, there are no shortage of stars in the World Group Play-off between Germany and Ukraine.
Fed Cup World Group Play-off – Germany v Ukraine
In what looks to be a massive Fed Cup tie in Stuttgart, Germany will face some severe resistance against a country that is on the up in the tennis world in Ukraine. This is only the second time that these two sides have met in Fed Cup history. The first and only meeting between the two saw Barbara Rittner guide the Germans to victory in 2004.
I think the home court advantage plays a huge part in this match-up. World No.1 and two-time slam winner Angelique Kerber is the two-time defending champion in these surroundings, so understands what it takes to get the very best out of her game in these conditions and she also tends to pull out all the stops on an indoor court. Her breakthrough really came on an indoor court in Paris and Copenhagen back in 2012. So Kerber will be a tough player to beat under a roof.
Germany are not the force they once were in the Fed Cup competition. Long gone are the days where Andrea Petkovic, Sabine Lisicki and Julia Goerges were all situated inside the game’s Top 20 in the world rankings, but Rittner will be searching for Goerges to show some of the brand of tennis that directed her to her biggest WTA title win here in Stuttgart in 2011, where she beat Caroline Wozniacki in the final.
The key battle for Ukraine will be if Elina Svitolina faces Kerber, as the No.1 players for both countries. Svitolina has won some pretty massive matches over the German and has the last three matches. Ukraine are on the rise and they realise the potential that Svitolina has. She could be a future Top 5 player, but will Ukraine be able to salvage some rubbers from the likes of Lesia Tsurenko?
I think Germany will just about see this one through. The great thing about the Germany team selection is the strength in depth on a singles court. If Goerges, who suffered a wrist injury in Biel, does not feel healthy then Laura Siegemund can make a difference and I think that is why Germany will win this tie over Ukraine.
Prediction: Germany to win 3-1
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