Kiki Bertens has sealed a shock win for the Netherlands after defeating Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1,6-4, to give her country an irreversible 3-0 lead.
Facing Kuznetsova in a what was must-win match for Russia, Bertens had previously defeated the former US Open finalist in the 2013 Auckland Open. The 24-year-old also played Kuznetsova in the first round of the 2015 French Open, losing in three sets.
Kuznetsova, who encountered a marathon four-hour match against Richel Hogenkamp yesterday, gave the hosts an encouraging start. After clinching the opening game, the world No.17 applied pressure onto Bertens opening service game as the Dutch player was forced to save four break points before leveling at 1-1. The first two games were as close as Russia got as Bertens dominated the rest of the opening set. Converting her first break of the match to lead 3-1, the world No.106 worked her way towards a chance for a double break a couple games later, after the ball skimmed the top of the net before dropping to Russia’s side of the court. Bertens then sealed the double break after a deep return resulted in Kuznetsova hitting the ball out. There was no way back for Russia as Kuznetsova appeared sluggish on the court. A slice backhand from the world No.17 failed to go over the net to hand the first set to the Netherlands. During her dominating first set performance, Bertens produced 4 aces, 8 winners and 9 unforced errors. In comparison Kuznetsova produce 1 ace, 3 winners and 14 unforced errors.
Leading by a set, Bertens made a tentative start to the second set after a duo of double faults in her opening serving game. Despite the first signs of weakness from the Dutch player, Kuznetsova was still unable to break. Unlike the opening set, proceedings were much closer with the first six games going with serve. At 3-3, Kuznetsova was put under pressure after a series of outstanding shots from Bertens. A backhand shot from the Russian went into the net to hand Bertens a chance for a break to lead 4-3. The Dutch team were then awarded the crucial break after a seemingly straightforward forehand shot from Kuznetsova crashed into the net, sending the home crowd into silence (except the small army of Dutch fans). As the next couple of games went according to serve, the 24-year-old Dutchwoman was then tasked with serving the match out. The task proved simple for Bertens after another unforced error from her opponent handed her two match points. After squandering her first match point, Bertens was triumphant with her second after a outstanding forehand down the line forced Kuznetsova to return the ball straight into the net.
Bertens completed her stunning victory with seven aces, 22 winners (15 more than her rival) and 30 unforced errors. The Dutch player also won 78% of her first service points.
The win now extends Bertens Fed Cup singles record to 13-1. The Netherlands has now knocked Russia out of the Fed Cup in one of the biggest surprises in recent years for the tournament. Last year Russia reached the final at the tournament, losing 3-2 to the Czech Republic. It is now the fourth time that Russia has lost in the first round of the tournament since 2002.
Speaking about her win over Kuznetsova in Moscow, Bertens spoke of her disbelief.
“Well, yesterday was a very big surprise. It’s amazing that we have won already with 3-0”. A delighted Bertens said.
The captain of the Dutch Fed Cup team, Paul Haarhuis, also paid tribute to his team’s unexpected victory. Haarhuis praised the commitment of the players in his team.
“We are a real team, we don’t have great players, but we have a great team”. He said during the on-court interview.
The Netherlands will now play in their first Fed Cup semifinal since 1997.
Great Britain Handed Tough Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers Draw Against Czech Republic
Great Britain have a tough test in the Czech Republic in the BJK Cup qualifiers in April.
Great Britain will need to beat the Czech Republic away if they want to qualify for next year’s Billie Jean King Cup Finals after the draw was made today.
Anne Keothavong’s team beat Mexico earlier in the year to earn a place in the qualifiers next year.
However in today’s draw, Great Britain will need to overcome a huge test as they will go to the Czech Republic next April.
Czech Republic have won six of the last nine Billie Jean King Cups and boast the likes of Karolina Pliskova, Barbora Krejcikova, Marketa Vondrousova, Katarina Siniakova and Petra Kvitova.
Speaking after the draw Keothavong is looking forward to the test that awaits them in April, “The team are really looking forward to taking on Czech Republic in our 2022 qualifier and hopefully continuing our momentum in the Billie Jean King Cup next year,” she told skysports.com.
The Czechs are currently hosting this year’s finals and fell at the semi-final stage after losing a tight match to Switzerland.
Other key matches sees a repeat of this year’s group stage match between Belgium and Belarus while USA will host Elina Svitolina’s Ukraine team.
Here are the ties with the qualifiers taking place on the 15-16th of April next year with the finals happening next November:
Czech Republic v Great Britain
Australia v Slovakia
France v Italy
USA v Ukraine
Belarus v Belgium
Germany v Kazakhstan
Canada v Latvia
Spain v Netherlands
Russia sends Canada packing on day 2 of the Billie Jean King Cup
Daria Kasatkina featured in Russia’s 3-0 win over Canada in the Billie Jean King Cup today.
The Russians were too good for the Canadians to overcome and they won all three rubbers.
Canada is officially going home after losing three straight rubbers to Russia in the morning session of day two at the Billie Jean King Cup in Prague on Court one.
Bad news for Canada
The day didn’t get off to good start for Canada as during their morning warm-up Francoise Abanda injured her toe and upon review decided she wouldn’t be able to play. Carol Zhao was subbed in for Abanda and played the first rubber against Daria Kasatkina.
Kasatkina gives first blood to Russia
The first three games of the first set went on serve and it was the Russian who earned the first breakpoint of the match and broke the Canadian to take a 3-1 lead but was broken the following game and the set went back on serve.
At 4-3, the world number 28 had another chance to break and once again broke as she won the first set.
The second set again stayed on serve for the first two games and again it was the Russian who broke first and managed to turn that break into a double break as she broke Zhao one last time to win the match.
Pavlyuchenkova handles Marino
Next up was Rebecca Marino from Vancouver up against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and the first four games were pretty tight and both players did a good job holding serve.
it was the Russian who was able to get the first break of serve to take a 3-2 lead and that was enough for her to serve out the first set and take it 6-4. The second set stayed on serve until 5-4 when Marino had three set points on her opponent’s serve and got the crucial break to send the match into a deciding third set.
The world number 12 was keen to get the win and pushed hard in the opening game of the third set and broke the Canadian to take an early 1-0 lead. At 3-1, the Russian earned five chances to break and go up a double break and it took her until the fifth one to break again.
Pavlyuchenkova served out the set and the match at 5-2 to seal the win and the tie for Russia.
Russia wins dead rubber doubles match
For the third and final match, a dead rubber doubles match was played between Marino and Gabriela Dabrowski facing off against the Russian duo of Veronika Kudermetova and Liudmilla Samsonova.
It was indeed the Russian who ended up with another straight-sets win beating the Canadians 6-3, 6-1 in 53 minutes to end the tie with a 3-0 victory and a win away against France on Wednesday from the semi-finals.
Canada Shocks France on day 1 of the Billie Jean King Cup
Canada are off to a winning start at the Billie Jean King Cup Finals.
Despite missing their two best players and being major underdogs Canada caused a major upset beating the defending champions from France.
Canada is officially top of the group after beating France 2-1 over three rubbers which included singles and doubles. Francoise Abanda took on Fiona Ferro while Rebecca Marino faced the veteran Alize Cornet.
In doubles, Marino and Gabriela Dabrowski teamed up to play against the French duo of Clara Burel and Cornet in a decisive tie deciding doubles match rubber.
Abanda gets past Ferro
Francoise Abanda was a very interesting story coming into this year’s edition of the Billie Jean King Cup as she hadn’t played in over a year and after contracting Covid made her return in Prague at the O2 Arena.
Currently ranked at 353 in the world she did a good job hanging with Ferro who is currently ranked at 105 and the first set stayed on serve until 2-2 when it was the Canadian who got the first break of serve.
She wasn’t able to consolidate the break and it went back on serve and at 5-4, the world number 105 had a set point and was able to serve out the first to give first blood to France.
Winning the first set seemed to motivate Ferro and she managed to break in the first game of the second set and jump out to a 2-0 lead but the Canadian bounced back and won the next two games.
She broke once again to take a 3-2 lead and that break was enough for her to force a third and deciding set.
The third set stayed on serve with both players having great chances to break but couldn’t convert and at 1-1 it was the Canadian who got the early break and that one break sufficed to serve out the match and the win.
Cornet evens the tie
The Vancouver native faced the world number 59 from Nice and it was the Canadian who jumped out a 2-0 lead in the first set but the lead couldn’t hold and Cornet won two straight games.
She then got the crucial break for a 3-2 lead and that break was just enough for her to serve out the first set.
The world number 59 continued to roll and broke in the third game of the second set but at 3-2 the world number 148 broke right back to level the set at 3-3 and the set was decided by a tiebreaker.
Marino jumped out to a 2-0 lead and turned that into a 4-1 lead when the Nice native mounted a comeback and won three straight points to level the breaker at four.
At 6-5, Cornet had a match point and she took it to level the tie at one rubber apiece and the tie was decided by a decisive doubles rubber.
Deciding Doubles Rubber
Dabrowski who is a top 10 player in doubles showed why that is in the first set when she and Marino managed to get the first break of the match for a 2-1 lead.
That one break of serve again proved to be crucial as she served out the first set and Canada was one set away from a major win.
The second set stayed on serve until 3-2 when the duo of Burel and Cornet got the first break of serve but at 5-3 when serving for the set was broken and the set was decided by a tiebreaker.
The tiebreak was back and forth and at 6-5 France had a set point to send it to a match tiebreak but Canada managed to save it and at 7-6 broke serve one final to seal the win and the tie.
Canada will once again play in the morning session on day two as they will face Russia and a win against the Russians will send them through past the group stage and into the knockout round.
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