World no. 1 Angelique Kerber leads a German side battling against Ukraine for a place in the World Group in 2018: Latest news, results, fixtures and analysis from Germany vs Ukraine!
Germany vs Ukraine Fed Cup World Group play-off tie tennis is live from Stuttgart from 22-23 April 2017. Watch and bet on tennis live from Stuttgart at bet365 > live streaming > tennis
After both sides lost in the first round of the World Group in February, Germany and Ukraine face off in Stuttgart on 22-23 April with the winner retaining their status as part of the elite eight-nation World Group – giving them the opportunity to compete for the title when the 2018 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas begins.
Germany’s veteran captain Barbara Rittner, a player the last time that Germany faced off with and beat Ukraine, has chosen the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart – the same indoor clay venue that hosts the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix the following week, a Premier-level event where Angelique Kerber has won the title the past two years and Laura Siegemund was runner-up in 2016. Both women lead the German team alongside stalwart Julia Goerges and youngster Carina Witthoeft.
Ukraine look to world no. 13 Elina Svitolina, who has significantly beaten world no. 1 Kerber in their last three matches and won titles in Taipei City and Dubai so far this season, to shock the deeper German team with the aid of Acapulco champion Lesia Tsurenko.
Germany vs Ukraine Fed Cup match schedule
Rubber #1: Julia Goerges (GER) vs Elina Svitolina (UKR), Saturday 22 April (12pm local/11am BST)
In what will have been quite a tough decision for Germany's Fed Cup captain Barbara Rittner, Julia Goerges has been preferred above the slightly higher-ranked Laura Siegemund to take on Ukraine's top player Elina Svitolina on Saturday.
Elina Svitolina (Julian Finney/Getty Images for LTA)
Both Goerges and Siegemund have shone at the Porsche Arena, which is the venue for the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix as well, in the past - Goerges won the title in 2011 while Siegemund finished runner-up in 2016 - but Goerges is a much more experienced Fed Cup player, having played 11 singles rubbers in the past to Siegemund's zero (the latter has played one doubles rubber).
Of course, not all those experiences have been good for Goerges, who is 4-7 in Fed Cup singles and hasn't won a singles rubber since 2013. A semifinalist in Auckland and Budapest so far in 2017, Goerges is an excellent clay-court player and an extremely powerful if erratic striker of the ball and maybe the idea is that she will have a good shot at overwhelming Svitolina with power.
Since winning Taipei City and then the biggest title of her career so far at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, things have been quiet for world no. 13 Svitolina with unspectacular results at Indian Wells and Miami, but she is very good on clay - she was a quarterfinalist at the French Open in 2015 - and her team, underdogs against the experienced Germans at home, will be looking to her to outsteady Goerges, frustrate her into too many unforced errors and put Ukraine on the board in Stuttgart.
Rubber #2: Angelique Kerber (GER) vs Lesia Tsurenko (UKR), Saturday 22 April (2pm local/1pm BST)
World no. 1 Angelique Kerber returns to the German side after missing February's first-round defeat to the USA and warms up for her Porsche Tennis Grand Prix title defense in Stuttgart.
Lesia Tsurenko (Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
Currently on a nine-match winning streak in Stuttgart, where she won the title in 2015 and 2016, Kerber should be very comfortable in these surroundings and has performed well in Fed Cup in the past, enjoying a 12-9 record and having won her last three singles rubbers in dominant straight sets against Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland and Simona Halep and Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania. Kerber's 2017 season has been patchy so far, as is well-documented, having made one semifinal (in Dubai) and finished runner-up to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Monterrey during the first few months of the year, and her two defeats to Svitolina so far this season are ominous for Sunday's reverse singles, but she is still world no. 1 (until Monday, when Serena Williams will retake the ranking despite the news that she is pregnant and won't play again in 2017) and an excellent player and a triumphant home tie might just give her the confidence she's been lacking.
That's not to underestimate the challenge of Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko, who won the title in Acapulco earlier this year and took the first set from Kerber 6-1 in their only previous meeting (although naturally Kerber came back to win in three). An experienced Fed Cup player with an unconventional game, Tsurenko can be a very dangerous opponent on her day and can be relied upon to take advantage of any passivity from Kerber. A focused and proactive performance from Kerber should see the world no. 1 record victory, however.
Latest Germany vs Ukraine Fed Cup results
Check back for the latest Germany vs Ukraine results when play begins on Saturday 22 September
Team Germany: Angelique Kerber, Laura Siegemund, Julia Goerges, Carina Witthoeft, Barbara Rittner (captain)
Team Ukraine: Elina Svitolina, Lesia Tsurenko, Olga Savchuk, Nadiia Kichenok, Mikhail Filima (captain)
Germany are hoping to bounce back from a disastrous first-round defeat to the USA in the first round, an away tie which was marred by the Americans’ ugly mistake in performing the wrong German national anthem and only got worse for the visitors, with Andrea Petkovic losing to Alison Riske and to Coco Vandeweghe from a winning position and Julia Goerges unable to complete her match against Vandeweghe, which was interrupted by rain, due to injury.
World no. 1 Angelique Kerber has returned for this World Group play-off and despite a less than stellar season for the German so far, whose best result was a semifinal showing in Dubai, Germany will be hoping that the left-hander will recover the form that’s seen her win the title at the Porsche Arena – the venue for the tie – in 2015 and 2016, backed up by Laura Siegemund, who was runner-up in Stuttgart in 2016 and a recent semifinalist in Charleston. The hard-hitting, experienced Julia Goerges, if healthy, is also a great option for the captain.
Ukraine enjoy a much shallower bench, but do have the advantage of their top singles player, Elina Svitolina, having beaten Kerber in their last three encounters – including twice in 2017, a season which has seen the world no. 13 win Taipei City and the biggest title of her career at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. They are looking to reach the World Group for the third time after a comfortable win over Australia in February.
Fed Cup format
Fed Cup ties are played over the best of five rubbers over two days. Two singles rubbers are played on Saturday, followed by the reverse singles rubbers on Sunday with the tie going to a deciding doubles rubber if necessary.
Player nominations can be changed up until an hour before the start of play.
One nation hosts the tie, with the choice of ground decided by where the two competing teams played last time. The only previous meeting between Germany and Ukraine took place in Illichevsk in 2004, so it is Germany’s turn to host and they have chosen the indoor clay courts of the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart – a natural fit given that the same venue hosts the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, where Kerber will be going for her third straight title, the next week.
The winner of the Germany vs Ukraine World Group play-off tie will be assured of a place among the elite eight-nation World Group for the 2018 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas.
Germany vs Ukraine: The history
Head to head: Germany vs Ukraine 1-0
Germany’s captain, Barbara Rittner, was a playing member of the squad when Germany and Ukraine played for the first and only time in Illichevsk back in 2004.
Germany have won the Fed Cup twice, in 1987 and 1992, and been runners-up five times, most recently in 2014 when they lost 1-3 to the Czech Republic. The team were also semifinalists in 2015, with Kerber – who became world no. 1 during her 2016 season, which saw her win two Grand Slams – Andrea Petkovic and Julia Goerges frequent competitors for the team.
Up until 1993, Ukraine players represented the USSR. Since competing as an independent nation, Ukraine have made the World Group twice, in 2010 and 2012. They are hoping to make it back to the World Group for a third time in 2018 by defeating Germany in this weekend’s play-offs.
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