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German team wants to challenge russia - 'many things are possible'

Aubenseiter, so what? Even without all its top players, the german fed cup team wants to cause a surprise in the first round duel in belarus this weekend. "If we get off to a good start, a lot is possible," said new coach jens gerlach confidently.

Even though barbara rittner’s successor will have to do without angelique kerber, julia gorges, carina witthoft, laura siegemund, andrea petkovic and sabine lisicki at last year’s final in minsk, he does not see his debut simply as a maturing process for the inexperienced selection of the german tennis federation. "We already want to achieve something and are not here just to shake hands," said the swabian.

When the draw was made in the beautiful minsk city hall, gerlach had a surprise in store for the hosts in any case. Because in addition to the german number one tatjana maria, the coach nominated a debutant in antonia lottner for the second singles match. The 21-year-old only made it onto the team after witthoft had to withdraw due to a severe ear infection. But in the past few days, gerlach from dusseldorf has impressed the crowd at the almost 10,000-seat chyschouka arena.

Thanks to her unencumbered style, lottner gets preference over anna-lena friedsam, who is not yet fully fit after her lengthy shoulder injury. "It is a great honor for me to be allowed to play for germany. I’m really looking forward to it," said lottner.

The player from the rhineland will play the ukrainian number one alexandra sasnovich in the second singles match on saturday. Previously plays from 12.00 o’clock (CET) maria vs. Aryna sabalenka. "If we could have chosen it, we chose it," said gerlach after the draw. "We have tatjana, a very experienced player, against a very young ukrainian, from whom a lot is expected. There is a lot in it."

However, sabalenka goes into the opener as the clear favorite. The number 63 in the world rankings has already reached the quarterfinals of two tournaments this year and is regarded as one of the stars of the future. The roles in the duel between sasnovich and lottner are even clearer. However, the DTB managers around rittner, who joined the team on thursday, are betting that the hosts will have their problems with the burde of the favorite. They are also missing the real number one in victoria asarenka. "We already want to mix it up a bit," gerlach boldly announced.

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