Tennis: Play-off duel Austria-Mexico is 1-1 after the first day

Tennis: Play-off duel Austria-Mexico is 1-1 after the first day
Sinja Kraus
Image: GEPA pictures/Walter Luger (GEPA pictures)

The Austrian tennis team’s play-off duel in the women’s Billie Jean King Cup with Mexico is 1-1 after the first day. First, Tamira Paszek from Vorarlberg was defeated by Fernanda Contreras 2:6.5:7 in Schwechat on Saturday, before Sinja Kraus from Vienna, number one in her team, defeated the experienced Giuliana Olmos 7:5.6:2. The decision about promotion to the 2024 World Group qualifying round will be made on Sunday (from 1 p.m., live on ORF Sport +).

From her point of view, Kraus started perfectly with an immediate break and was heading for a sure set win, but when she was out, she made three doubles and one slight error. However, at 5:5, the local hero struck back immediately and served late. In the second round, Olmos fought back successfully in the first games and went 2-1 in front. After that, the world-class doubles player didn’t play any more games; Kraus clearly dominated the action.

Paszek: “Started off extremely nervous”

Paszek, in turn, spoke on Friday about hard court-like conditions that would benefit her, even if sand is not her favorite surface. At least at the beginning of the game, she didn’t come close to her performance from a year ago, when she had brought the Latvian top player Jelena Ostapenko to the brink of defeat in the Multiverse in the same phase of this team competition.

“Being the first to start on the first day – a lot has happened with the walk on court,” said Paszek, explaining her weaker start. “I just started the match extremely nervous because I didn’t want to make a mistake and the mindset wasn’t right.” At the beginning of the game, in front of former ÖTV players like Barbara Schett, Sybille Bammer and Barbara Schwartz, the level was modest.

But Contreras made better use of the opportunities presented to him. The 26-year-old pulled ahead with a double break to 4:1. Paszek then used her sixth break chance to make it 2:4 with a more powerful game, but immediately gave up her serve again. Contreras served out the set with an ace. “I was too passive, there was no power behind it,” Paszek later summed up her first sentence. “There were a lot of close games, often both 30, debuts. It just always went the other way.”

Paszek with hope for Sunday

Paszek made the second half more open, although from their point of view it started with a score of 0:2. But then for the first time she managed a service game without a break chance against her, equalized, and didn’t allow herself to be demotivated by a goalless service game to make it 2:3. The 32-year-old followed up another rebreak with her first lead. After the eighth break the service went to 5:5. Paszek then gave up a fighting game and Contreras used her third match point.

The defeat is inevitable, but Paszek draws motivation from the second set for her Sunday match against Olmos. “I fought my way into it well. I tried more to play my game, to use the backhand longline more.” During the decisive break against herself to make it 4:5, the local hero saw Contreras as the more active one. “There were just a few ups and downs that shouldn’t have happened. But there were phases in which I often showed good tennis. I hope to take that with me tomorrow.”

Sports celebrities such as Irene Fuhrmann, the team manager of the Austrian national soccer team, were also in the stands, which were filled with around 500 spectators. ÖTV sports director Jürgen Melzer doesn’t miss the appearance of the local team at the gates of Vienna, as does Julia Grabher. Austria’s number one is currently out of action due to a wrist injury, but was keeping his fingers crossed from the ÖTV bench.

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