In this article, for every tie there will be the nominations, venue, background about the tie and the players and then the predictions of me and my fellow writers here at Ubitennis.net
World Group Semifinals
Czech Republic – Switzerland
Nominations: Czech Republic has to play the tie without their Top 2 players, Kvitova and Safarova. With these limitations, the team of Karolina Pliskova, Barbora Strycova, Denisa Allertova and Lucie Hradecka was nominated. The Swiss were also weakened, by Belinda Bencic. However Switzerland lacks the depth of players that Czech Republic has. The team right now is Timea Bacsinszky, Viktorija Golubic and Martina Hingis, with the fourth player yet to be nominated.
Venue: This tie will be played in Lucerne, Switzerland, on Hard court (Rebound Ace), Indoor
Background: The Swiss seemed to be the favorites until the withdrawal of Bencic, having two Top 20 players. Now it seems that the Swiss No. 2 will be World No. 129 Viktorija Golubic. The decision to put the tie on an indoor hard court might seem a bit illogical, as next week the tour will move on to clay, and Bacsinszky has had better results on clay then on hard courts. Both Pliskova and Strycova prefer hard courts over clay, which makes the choice of surface even more absurd. Martina Hingis has not confirmed nor denied making another singles comeback for Fed Cup, like against Poland last year.
Me: On Saturday I predict Pliskova to defeat Golubic easily and for Bacsinszky to take the win over Strycova in 3 tough sets. Day 2 will be Pliskova getting her first win over Bacsinszky, and for Strycova to seal the deal against Golubic. The Czechs will advance to the finals 3-1.
Adam Addicott: Czech Republic wins.
Bruno Bergareche: With everyone available and playing at home I would have backed Switzerland but with Bencic out injured I think Czech Republic are marginal favourites.
Diego Sampaolo: Czech Republic will continue its proud tradition and qualify for the final, as Switzerland will play without Belinda Bencic.
France – Netherlands
Nominations: France is bringing their best team to the tie, getting all of their Top 50 players, Kristina Mladenovic, Caroline Garcia and Alize Cornet. Pauline Parmentier will be completing the team. Their opponents are also bringing their best. The surprise semifinalists of Netherlands are bringing their only Top 100 player Kiki Bertens. As for the remaining players Richel Hogenkamp, Cindy Burger and Arantxa Rus, any of them could play as the Dutch No. 2 player.
Venue: This tie will be played on indoor clay in Trélazé, France
Background: Netherlands have been surprising everyone in Fed Cup over the past 2 years, first getting into World Group, and now outing Russia to make the semifinals. The Dutch always get up for the Fed Cup ties and that’s why France should not underestimate them. Especially because none of their Top 3 players are not in a good form.
Me: I believe that Netherlands will be able to pull of the upset. All Bertens, Hogenkamp and Rus are pretty good clay-courters, and I think that they’ll be able to get two wins on Day 1. On Day 2 I expect Mladenovic to beat Bertens, but then for Hogenkamp to finish the tie off against Garcia or Mladenovic. I think that Netherlands will win 3-1 and be the surprise finalist.
Adam Addicott: France win with ease.
Bruno Bergareche: As for the second semifinal, I think Netherlands fairy tale run has to come to an end against one of the most solid teams in France.
Diego Sampaolo: France is the clear favourite against the Netherlands.
World Group Play-Offs
Russia – Belarus
Nominations: Russia will be coming into this without their Top 3 players, not counting Sharapova. Daria Kasatkina and Margarita Gasparyan will most probably play the singles, Elena Vesnina is the doubles specialist on the team, and Elizaveta Kulichkova completes the squad. Belarus had to deal with not having Azarenka on their team, but that is not the case this time. World No. 5 Victoria Azarenka will lead the team of Olga Govortsova, Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Aryna Sabalenka.
Venue: This tie will be played in Moscow on an indoor clay court.
Background: Both No. 1 players of each team had an amazing year, Azarenka winning the ‘Sunshine Double’ and rising to No. 5. Belarus has the Top 10 player, but Russia has the depth in their team, meaning that this compelling tie might be decided in the fifth rubber.
Me: I predict that Azarenka will win both her singles matches, while Gasparyan and Kasatkina beat the Belarus No. 2. I think that the tie will be decided in the doubles. I believe that the team of Kasatkina and Vesnina for Russia will beat the Belarussian team of Azarenka and Govortsova or Sasnovich. Russia will win 3-2.
Adam Addicott: Russia wins
Bruno Bergaracha: Russia wins
Diego Sampaolo: Russia wins
Spain – Italy
Nominations: Spain is coming into the tie with both of their best players, Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro. Sara Sorribes Tormo will come in play in case of an injury, and Anabel Medina Garrigues is the doubles specialist of the team. Italy also got their top two players, Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani. Since Camila Giorgi refused to attend the tie, Karin Knapp and Francesca Schiavone are in the team.
Venue: This tie will be played in Lleida, Span on an outdoor hard court.
Background: Carla Suarez Navarro and Roberta Vinci had splendid season so far, so it will be very interesting to see those two play each other and how the match goes. Suarez Navarro is also tied to Sara Errani, whom she played doubles with this year so far, so something to look for in their match, if they play each other, will be the chemistry between them throughout the match, the post-match handshake etc.
Me: I predict Spain to roll through Italy this tie, winning the first three rubbers. After 3-0 the dead rubber doubles will be a coin flip. Spain will win 3-0.
Adam Addicott: Spain wins.
Bruno Bergaracha: I hope Spain wills, despite that upsetting a couple of people here at Ubitennis.
Diego Sampaolo: Spain wins.
Romania – Germany
Nominations: Both teams seem to have brought all the players the captains wanted to this tie, just confirming the quality of it. Romania will be led by World No. 6 Simona Halep, Monica Niculescu and Irina-Camelia Begu are going to bring their best to deserve the No. 2 spot on the team. Alexandra Dulgheru will be completing the team. Barbara Rittner also brought the best German players for the tie. Angelique Kerber is the clear No. 1, Andrea Petkovic will most probably be No. 2. Annika Beck and Julia Goerges are also available on the team.
Venue: Romania selected the same venue in Cluj as against Czech Republic. Once again it will be played on indoor clay.
Background: Simona Halep didn’t reach her heights this season, and wasn’t very impressive thus far. Kerber has had her ups and downs. Won the Australian Open and reached semifinals of Miami, but lost to Saisai Zheng and Denisa Allertova this year. Kerber had to retire from Charleston due to viral illness, so we will see if and how she recovered from it.
Me: I feel that this tie could really go either way, Kerber has had a better year, but Halep has the home advantage and the advantage of the surface. Andrea Petkovic, Annika Beck, Monica Niculescu and Irina-Camelia Begu are, I think, all at the same level on clay right now, so whichever will go into their matches can win. I feel this match will come down to doubles, in which I predict Romania winning. Romania will win 3-2.
Adam Addicott: Germany wins.
Bruno Bergaracha: I think Romania will edge Germany on clay.
Diego Sampaolo: Germany wins.
Australia – USA
Nominations: Compared to their last tie with Slovakia, Australia now has the advantage of Daria Gavrilova being able to play in Fed Cup, which might prove to be the deciding factor in this tie. Other than Gavrilova there is also Samantha Stosur for the singles, Casey Dellacqua and Arina Rodionova as doubles players. USA didn’t manage to get neither of the Williams’ sisters, nor Sloane Stephens as the tie is played in Australia. Madison Keys will be the No. 1 of the team, Coco Vandeweghe will most probably play as the No. 2. There is also Christina McHale and the World No. 3 in doubles Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
Venue: This tie will be played in the well known Pat Rafter Arena in Brisbane. The change from the tournament that is usually played there will be that this tie is going to be played on an outdoor clay court.
Background: This tie seems to be almost ridiculously equal, with Stosur and Keys being the No. 26 and 25, Gavrilova and Vandeweghe being No. 39 and 36, and Dellacqua and Mattek-Sands being the No. 6 and 3 in doubles. Gavrilova seems to be crucial in her debuting tie. Both Madison Keys and Coco Vandeweghe have their worst results on clay, while Stosur has reached the Roland Garros final in her career and Gavrilova made the semifinal in Madrid last year.
Me: I predict that the score will be 1-1 after Day 1, with Stosur and Keys taking the wins, but on Day 2 it will be the Aussie show with Stosur and Gavrilova getting wins. I predict, unlike my colleagues, that Australia wins 3-1.
Adam Addicott: USA wins.
Bruno Bergaracha: I’m going for a tight USA win in Australia.
Diego Sampaolo: USA wins.
World Group II Play-Offs
In the Play-Offs for World Group II, Serbia without Ivanovic and Jankovic will face strong Belgium led by Wickmayer and Flipkens.
A solid Slovak team of Schmiedlova and Cibulkova in the singles will face a Bouchard-less Canada, without a player in the Top 250 at home.
Poland without the Radwanska sisters and Linette will face Chinese Taipei without Su-Wei Hsieh and Chan sisters. This seems to be the only tie in which the winner is unclear and also the only tie without a Top 100 player playing.
A strong Ukraine team led by Tsurenko and Bondarenko will host Argentina without a Top 200 player on the hard courts.
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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