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Australia steals early Fed Cup lead over Switzerland

Daniela Casanova is consoled by the Swiss team after losing her match against Alicia Molik Keystone

Australia has taken an early 2-0 lead over Switzerland in the second round of the Fed Cup in Sydney, after Nicole Pratt and Alicia Molik beat Swiss sisters Myriam and Daniela Casanova in straight-set singles matches.

Pratt beat Myriam Casanova 6-3, 6-1, while Molik defeated sister Daniela by the same scoreline.

The Swiss team had not been expected to perform well in Australia, after the world number one Martina Hingis and Patty Schnyder (WTA 33) refused to make the trip to Sydney and withdrew from the Fed Cup team.

Pratt and Molik started as strong favourites against the Casanova sisters, who are more than 400 places below them in the world rankings.

Despite easing to a comfortable victory over the 16-year-old Myriam Casanova, Pratt had words of praise for her young Swiss opponent after the match.

“She came out firing, ” the world number 71 said, “with a great backhand down the line, and I was surprised.”

“Myriam’s definitely got a good future. Certainly, she played a hell of a lot better than her ranking suggests,” she added.

Myriam and Daniela Casanova are ranked 497th and 536th respectively in the world.

The Swiss team will attempt to keep the match against Australia alive on Sunday, when the Casanovas will be joined by Switzerland’s other representative, the Geneva-based Aliénor Tricerri.

Sunday’s schedule of play involves reverse singles matches as well as a doubles match.

Swiss captain Jakob Hlasek has indicated he may give Tricerri a chance to play in one of Sunday’s singles matches, while in the doubles Myriam Casanova and Tricerri are due to play Pratt and Rachel McQuillan.

The winner of the tie will progress through to the eight-team finals series which takes place in Madrid in November.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR