Czech Republic have reached a tenth consecutive Fed Cup Semi-Final after a straight sets Petra Kvitova win secured a 3-1 victory over Switzerland
The world number 21 and multiple time grand slam champion looked sizzling hot from the start of the match as she gained two breaks of serve in the opening set. Bencic could not deal with the big lefty forehand that she faced and was on the back foot for most of the match.
After 37 minutes Kvitova comfortably served out the first set 6-2 as she continued to punish Bencic for her errors. The second set was a tighter affair as the world number 73 managed to deal with Kvitova’s presence much better and used her big shots to move the tall Czech Republican around.
However Kvitova, who made an emotional return to the Fed Cup scene this weekend, managed to secure a crucial break in the seventh game to break down the Bencic momentum. Despite several opportunities, Bencic could not break her Czech Republican opponent down as she was left frustrated. Kvitova served out the match to complete a 6-2 6-4 victory and make sure that her nation would compete in an historic tenth consecutive Fed Cup Semi-Final.
Despite Switzerland’s best efforts they could not repeat their previous success and will now compete in a World Group Play-Off in April to try and keep their World Group status.
The Czech Republic will now play Germany in the Semi-Finals after they overcame last year’s finalists Belarus 3-2 in an exhilarating tie. With the tie locked in at 1-1 going into Sunday, Belarus were dealt a huge blow as Sasnovich had to miss the first match of the day due to illness. She was replaced by Vera Lapko, who made her Fed Cup singles debut.
Despite Lapko’s best efforts she fell to Tatjana Maria in three sets as the German Number One in this tie gave the visitors a 2-1 lead. However Belarus would soon level the tie after their number two, Aryna Sabalenka battled past Antonia Lottner 6-3 5-7 6-2 to force a deciding doubles rubber.
The deciding doubles was drama personified, however world number 21 Anna-Lena Groenefeld used her doubles experience to lead Germany to victory after her and Maria defeated Sabalenka and Marozava 6-7(4) 7-5 6-4. Belarus compete in the World Group Play-Off draw.
France and USA Set Super Showdown
In the other Semi-Final in April, France will play the USA in what is set to be a super clash. France beat Belgium 3-2 after Kristina Mladenovic and Amandine Hesse defeated Kirsten Flipkens and Elise Mertens in the deciding doubles 6-4 2-6 6-2.
While USA have attained an unassailable 3-0 lead over the Netherlands after Venus Williams defeated Richel Hogenkamp 7-5 6-1. This means USA have won their 150th Fed Cup tie and will compete in the Semi-Finals in April when they take on France.
The Netherlands and Belgium will be in the World Group Play-Offs in April, with the draw for those play-offs and the World Group II Play-Offs taking place on Tuesday.
Great Britain To Play Billie Jean King Cup Finals After Glasgow Picked As Host Nation
The UK will stage the finale of the women’s biggest team tennis event for the first time in over 30 years.
The International Tennis Federation has selected Glasgow as the host nation of this year’s Billie Jean King Cup Finals following a successful bid from the British LTA.
A total of 12 nations will participate in the six-day event which will be held between November 8-13 at the Emirates Arena. A facility originally built for the 2014 Commonwealth Games that has since staged various events, including Davis Cup ties. It has a seating capacity of roughly just over 8000 people. This year’s finals will be held on indoor hardcourts.
It is only the fourth time Britain has staged the finals of the tournament which was previously known as the Fed Cup. It was previously held in London 1963, Eastbourne 1977 and Nottingham 1991.
“We are delighted to be bringing the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup by BNP Paribas Finals to Glasgow. The LTA presented a very impressive bid as part of a competitive hosting process. They have successfully hosted Davis Cup ties in Glasgow, and we look forward to having the women’s World Cup of Tennis take place in front of passionate tennis fans from around the world in an electric atmosphere, at the culmination of the women’s tennis season.” ITF President David Haggerty said in a statement.
Great Britain automatically qualifies for the final as they are the hosts. They will be joined by Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Italy, Kazakhstan, Poland, Spain, Slovakia, Switzerland and USA. The format of the round-robin event will see the teams split into four groups of three. The will of each group will then progress to the knockout stages.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to build the profile of women’s tennis and focus attention on women’s sport. The entire team are very excited about playing in front of a home crowd and hearing some loud support across the whole week.” British captain Anne Keothavong commented.
The Russian Tennis Federation won the tournament last year but they will not be allowed to participate this year. Russian and Belarussian teams have been suspended from taking part in ITF team events as the result of the Ukraine war. Russia launched a ‘special military’ operation on February 24th and Belarus is suspected of supporting them.
The draw for the Billie Jean King Cup finals will take place at a later date.
Emma Raducanu Believes Clay Could Be ‘One Of Her Strongest’ Surfaces
The world No.12 is yet to play a Tour event on the clay but she has high hopes for the future.
US Open champion Emma Raducanu may still be relatively new to the WTA Tour but she believes the upcoming clay swing could help provide her with the foundations to shine on the surface.
Raducanu, who made her WTA debut last June, is yet to play a Tour event on the clay. In fact, she has never played a senior event of any kind on the surface. However, during her junior event she played in nine clay tournaments between 2016-2018, including the 2018 girls French Open where she lost in the second round to Denmark’s Clara Tauson.
Despite her lack of experience, the Brit remains confident that she will be able to thrive on the surface. Speaking to reporters ahead of her country’s Billie Jean Cup tie with the Czech Republic, which will take place on clay, Raducanu believes her love for sliding on the court will help her in the coming years.
“I feel this could be one of my strongest surfaces going forward but of course it’s early days right now,” she said.
“I feel like I have got a lot more potential physically. And I do enjoy sliding. So, after spending more time on this surface, I’m sure I’ll time it better and learn more about the surface but also just the time that the clay brings. I feel like I can really use it and play aggressive.”
Since her breakthrough run at the US Open last September, Raducanu has struggled to maintain her form with a series of disappointing results. So far this season the rising star has managed to win just two out of seven matches played. Four out of her five losses were to players ranked outside the world’s top 50.
Part of the problem for the 19-year-old has been her own body. She has suffered from a hip injury which forced her to retire from a match in Mexico earlier this year and has also been hindered by blisters. Furthermore, Raducanu revealed that she has also lost all of her toenails. Prompting British team captain Anne Keothavong to joke that everybody is ‘a little bit scared’ by her toes.
“I have no toenails,” Raducanu stated.
“It was just my foot, my shoes, they’ve just been sliding around a lot [in the shoe].
“I had a small niggle in Miami but now I have no physical thing.”
Raducanu will be hoping to lead her country to victory in their Billie Jean King Cup tie which will be held in Prague. It will be the first time she has ever played in the event.
“I love playing as a team, especially the team we’ve got here,” she said.
“I feel like everyone has been a lot of fun and there’s been a great connection off court, whether that’s playing murder mystery games or cornhole, we’re definitely bonding and gelling very well.”
Raducanu is the only top 20 player participating in the tie.
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
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