ZIELONA GORA, Poland — Five-time Grand Slam champion Martina Hingis played and lost her first competitive singles match since 2007 as Switzerland and Poland tied 1-1 on the first day of the Fed Cup World Group playoff on Saturday.
Agnieszka Radwanska beat Hingis 6-4, 6-0 while her younger sister Urszula Radwanska lost to Timea Bacsinszky 2-6, 1-6 on the hard indoor court.
Hingis won only 47 per cent of points on her first serve in the 76-minute match but claimed all 19 second-serve points. The Swiss was let down by 25 unforced errors against 14 for her opponent.
On Sunday, Hingis plays Urszula Radwanska and Bacsinszky faces Agnieszka Radwanska.
The two Swiss players will also face Poland’s Alicja Rosolska and Klaudia Jans-Ignacik in the doubles.
The 34-year-old Hingis was playing in the Fed Cup for the first time in 17 years.
After her second retirement in 2007, Hingis played singles only in exhibition matches but won several doubles and mixed doubles titles.
Czechs take commanding lead over French
OSTRAVA, Czech Republic — Defending champion Czech Republic took a commanding 2-0 lead over France in the Fed Cup World Group semifinals after Lucie Safarova and Petra Kvitova won the opening singles matches on Saturday.
Safarova saved five match points before beating Caroline Garcia 4-6, 7-6 (1), 6-1 and Kvitova returned from almost a two-month break to defeat Kristina Mladenovic 6-3, 6-4.
The hosts are one win away from the final against Germany or Russia in November to have a chance of winning their fourth title in five years. France is playing in its first semis since 2007.
The reverse singles and doubles are planned for Sunday.
Fourth-ranked Czech Petra Kvitova, who last played on Feb. 26 in Doha, Qatar before taking a rest, broke Mladenovic to go 5-4 up in the second set before serving out the match on the second match point after Mladenovic’s return sailed long.
"I didn’t know what to expect from myself," Kvitova said. "I’m glad we lead 2-0 and that’s what matters."
Kvitova struggled with serve, her major weapon, but the 58th-ranked Mladenovic was not able to exploit that.
The Czech put in only 52 per cent of her first serve and committed seven double faults.
Earlier, the 13th-ranked Safarova converted her first match point with the 29th-ranked Garcia unable to return her serve on a fast indoor hardcourt at CEZ Arena.
"A wild match, isn’t it?" Safarova said. "I’m really happy I managed to come back."
After winning the opening set, Garcia wasted five match points in the 10th game, allowing Safarova to stage a comeback after the Czech dominated the tiebreaker 7-1.
"Of course, I was nervous," Safarova said about the match points. "But I served well and got her under pressure. In tennis, you can always come back until the final point is over. I did all I could. My experience played a role."
In the final set, Safarova, who was under pressure from big hitting Garcia in the first two sets, jumped to a decisive 5-0 lead with her first two breaks.
The 21-year-old Garcia hit 34 winners to Safarova’s 23 and broke the Czech in the 10th game with a forehand winner to take the first set.
"She played aggressively and served well," Safarova said.
Australia draws level with Netherlands
‘S-HERTOGENBOSCH, Netherlands — Casey Dellacqua, a late replacement for the injured Samantha Stosur, beat Arantxa Rus in straight sets to draw Australia level with the Netherlands after the first day Saturday of their Fed Cup World Group playoff.
Australia, a losing semifinalist last year, suffered a setback before the tie even started when former U.S. Open champion Stosur pulled out after aggravating an Achilles tendon injury.
But Dellacqua made sure she wasn’t missed, stepping in to beat Rus 7-5, 6-3 in a tight second match.
The lefthander from Perth rushed to a 5-1 lead in the opening set before Rus reeled off four straight games to level the set.
Dellacqua fought back to take the set, and made the decisive break of the second set in the eighth game. Rus forced a break point in the next game, but Dellacqua saved it and served out for the match.
Kiki Bertens gave the home team, seeking to reach the World Group for the first time since 1998, a perfect start by dismantling Jarmila Gajdosova 6-1, 6-3 in the opening match on an indoor clay court.
"I served well on the important points" against the higher-ranked Gajdosova, Bertens said.
Kuznetsova gives Russia early advantage over Germany
SOCHI, Russia — Svetlana Kuznetsova gave Russia a 1-0 lead over Germany in the Fed Cup World Group semifinals Saturday, beating Julia Goerges in straight sets.
Kuznetsova won 6-4, 6-4, taking advantage of erratic play by Goerges, who landed just 53 per cent of her first serves and made 45 unforced errors against 27 for the Russian.
Later Saturday, Germany’s Sabine Lisicki can try to level the score against Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Sunday sees the reverse singles before a final doubles rubber pits Germany’s Angelique Kerber and Andrea Petkovic against the Russian duo of Elena Vesnina and Vera Zvonareva.
Zvonareva replaces Russia’s world No. 2 Maria Sharapova, who withdrew from the match Tuesday with a leg injury.