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.
Australia Ousts Great Britain In Thriller To Reach BJK Cup Final
The host nation narrowly missed out on a place in the final but they have plenty of positives to motivate them for the future.
Australia has denied Great Britain an opportunity to play in their first team final since 1981 after prevailing 2-1 in an epic tussle at the Billie Jean King Cup in Glasgow.
The gripping tie was level at 1-1 after each team won one of the singles matches, paving the way for a winner-takes-all doubles encounter. The British team featured Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls who were both making their debut in the competition this week. Their opponents were former Grand Slam winner Sam Stosur and world No.10 doubles player Storm Sanders.
Despite the gap in experience between the two pairings, there was almost nothing to distinguish between the two throughout the majority of their encounter which lasted more than two hours. Nevertheless, the Australian duo held their nerve to seal a 7-6(1), 6-7(5), 10-6, victory to send them into the final.
“That was amazing. it could have gone either way and credit to the GB girls they played really well. They will be here again for sure.” Sanders said during her on-court interview.
It is only the second time in the past 30 years that Australia has progressed to the final after 2019. Before playing Great Britain, they also defeated Belgium and Slovakia in the group stages.
“A real credit to the four players out on court that was pretty inspirational, so I hope it inspires a lot more of you out there to play doubles. It was really such a high level you couldn’t pick it in the end.” Australian captain Alicia Molik commented on the doubles match.
Earlier in the day, Australia got off to the perfect start with Sanders edging her way past Heather Watson 6-4, 7-6(3). However, the host nation battled back with an impressive performance from Harriet Dart who defeated Ajla Tomljanović 7-6(3), 6-2. A player who has reached the quarter-finals at both Wimbledon and the US Open this year.
“The Billie Jean King Cup just brings the best out of me. I love playing in front of a home crowd, and I feel like I have really been feeding off my teammates and everyone here. It just makes me really want to do really well.” Said Dart.
The performances from the underdogs provide Britain with plenty of hope for the future. The nation lost in qualifying earlier this year but managed to enter the finals via wildcard due to the competition being held in their country.
“I’m just gutted for everyone right now but also I think we have to try and keep things in perspective,” British captain Keothavong told reporters.
“What a fantastic week it has been for the team. I don’t know how many people gave us much of a chance really to even come through the group stages.’
“It really is a fantastic achievement to reach the semifinals but we felt we could have gone further. That’s why it hurts so much.
“It’s going to hurt the players for a while but they’ll (the team) get over it. They can still hold their heads high because they have shown what they are capable of under a huge amount of pressure to deliver, and in the end, it came down to a few points.”
Australia will next play either Switzerland or the Czech Republic in the final. They are seeking to win the trophy for the first time since 1974.
Great Britain Looking To Overcome ‘Experienced’ Australia In Billie Jean King Cup Semis
Great Britain will play their first Billie Jean King Cup semi-final for 40 years when they play Australia on Saturday.
Great Britain plays their first Billie Jean King Cup semi-final for 40 years when they face Australia in the last four in Glasgow on Saturday.
It was a heroic effort from Great Britain on Thursday as they battled past Spain to reach the last four at the Billie Jean King Cup.
Having lost to Kazakhstan 2-1 in their opening match, they knew they had to beat Spain 3-0 to qualify for the semi-finals.
But step up Heather Watson, Harriet Dart and the doubles team of Olivia Nicholls and Alicia Barnett, as they pulled off a massive upset to seal a place in the semi-finals.
Speaking after the win against Spain, Great Britain’s captain Anne Keothavong praised the doubles pairing of Barnett and Nicholls, “It’s down to their doubles win on Tuesday night (in a 2-1 loss to Kazakhstan) that kept us in this competition,” Keothavong was quoted by tennis365 as saying.
“I think if you watch that match, it’s hard not to feel the joy and the camaraderie between the players. It really truly was infectious.
“I think also Liv and Liss bring something different to the team which we haven’t had before. It’s not just the fact that they specialise in doubles but they have had a life outside of tennis.”
Now Great Britain look to repeat the success of the 1981 side as they look to beat Australia and reach the final.
It will be no easy task though with an in-form Ajla Tomljanovic, Ellen Perez, Storm Sanders and Sam Stosur standing in their way.
Keothavong admitted it will be a tough match but also noted that momentum is on Great Britain’s side, “They are a tough team,” Britain’s captain admitted.
“They are a team with plenty of experience in this competition. But look, we have to believe, and we’re on a high at the moment.”
That semi-final is the first semi-final before reigning champions Switzerland face the Czech Republic at 16:00 GMT.
‘Sky’s The Limit’ – Great Britain Storm Into First Billie Jean King Cup Semis In Over 40 Years
The underdogs have exceeded expectations in front of their home fans in Glasgow.
British captain Anne Keothavong said it was ‘wonderful’ to watch her team pull off a sensational 3-0 win over Spain at the Billie Jean King Cup on Thursday.
After suffering a loss to Kazakhstan earlier in the week, team GB entered their latest tie knowing they have to win all three of their matches without dropping a set if they want to progress to the semi-final stages. Despite having the odds against them, they managed to surge to victory.
Heather Wason thrashed Nuria Perrizas 6-0, 6-2, who is ranked 50 places higher than her in the WTA standings. Then Harriet Dart stunned world No.13 Paula Badosa 6-3, 6-4, in just over 90 minutes. To put that victory into perspective, Dart has only beaten one top-10 player in her career, which was Daria Kasatkina at the US Open earlier this year.
“I’m just so proud to represent my country, to be able to also perform on home soil in front of a home crowd. Doesn’t get more special than that,” Hart told reporters afterwards.
“My goal was to make it as tough as possible out there for her, and I felt like I executed my game plan really well. I knew that all the pressure was on them because on paper she’s meant to beat me easily.”
On the verge of booking a place in the semi-finals, the tie came down to the doubles match. Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls only found out they were playing in the competition for the first time in their careers last week. Despite their inexperience, the duo managed to pull off a shock 7-6(5), 6-2, win over Aliona Bolsova and Rebeka Masarova.
“The sky’s the limit after what we have shown so far,” said Nicholls. “We were definitely underdogs in this group. No doubt about it.
“Both the singles girls, Harriet and Heather, getting unbelievable wins. We have shown what we can do on the doubles court at well. I don’t see there are any players or teams here that we shouldn’t walk onto court thinking we can’t beat. We will just keep going.”
The triumph makes it the first time Britain has reached the semi-finals since 1981 when the event was called the Federation Cup. Britain, who are currently ranked 17th in the team standings, only managed to qualify for the finals due to being the host nation.
“It sure is (historic) – this is something really special,” said Keothavong.
“I’m just so proud of this team. Every single player on the team has done us proud, the team spirit has been high, and I just want to thank everyone who has come to support the British team here. It really makes the difference and we really appreciate the support.
“We want to put women’s sport and tennis on the map and the support you give us is helping us to create amazing memories.”
Britain will next take on Australia who coincidentally was the country they faced the last time they reached the semi-finals more than 40 years ago. Australia, which is headed by top-40 player Ajla Tomljanović, has topped their group following a 3-0 win over Belgium and a 2-1 win over Slovakia.
“We are not here to participate – we are here to try and win this event,” said team member Storm Saunders.
“Everyone on the team, it’s a priority for us to win. So, semi-finals is, yeah, a good step but we’re here for more.”
Britain is seeking to win the title for the first time in history and Australia is aiming to claim their first since 1974.
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