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.
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.
ITF Chief Eyes Turning Billie Jean King Cup Finals Into Multi-City Event
David Haggerty is hoping the inaugural competition will spark an interest from potential host countries in the future.
The first edition of the Billie Jean Cup Finals is set to get underway in Prague but organisers are already thinking about what could be in store for the future.
Known previously as the Federation Cup, the women’s finale has been transformed into a weeklong event featuring a total of 12 countries. Moving away from its tradition of a two-team final with home and away ties. The revamp occurs just a couple years after a similar change was made to the Davis Cup, which was approved after receiving enough support from a vote that took place at an ITF AGM meeting.
However, preparations for the inaugural Billie Jean King Cup Finals have been far from smooth. The event was initially due to be staged in April 2020 but was suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Then this year the Hungarian Tennis Association announced they no longer wish to host the event. Paving way for Prague to step in as a late replacement.
David Haggerty is the president of the International Tennis Federation who has overseen the recent changes made to the two historic team events. Speaking to City AM, the American official indicated that the decision to move the finals from April to November will be a permanent plan for the future.
“I think most of the stakeholders believe that the end of the season makes sense,” said Haggerty.
“We’ve had conversations with the WTA about this as well and that’s where we’ve slotted in and that’s where we’ll be looking for for 2022 and beyond, in November for sure.”
It has been a case that the women’s event has been based on their male equivalent. This year’s Davis Cup finals will be taking place in three different cities for the first time. Turin, Innsbruck and Madrid will be staging matches with Madrid being the location for all semi-final and final ties. Haggerty says the ITF intends to continue the multi-city approach because it ‘ticked all the boxes’ and hopes it can be applied to the women’s competition.
“It’s something that could happen, that preliminarily we are looking at,” he commented.
Taking place a week before the WTA Finals in Mexico, the Billie Jean King Cup will be missing top names such as Garbine Muguruza and Paula Badosa who both recently pulled out of the event. Barbora Krejčíková and Belinda Bencic are the only top 10 players taking part.
Nevertheless, Haggerty is counting on the event being a success in hope that it will help him secure host countries in the future. It is currently unknown as to where the 2022 edition will be held.
“One of the things we felt was important was to showcase what it could be, because this will be the inaugural year that we move to this format,” he says.
“We want to be able to show that to all the nations and then have discussions about where the next editions will be.”
Some don’t like change
As the ITF hails a new milestone in the competition, some of those taking part have their reservations. French Open champion Krejčíková has openly said she preferred the old format. Her country, the Czech Republic, has won the women’s team title 11 times which is the second highest in history after America who has won it 18 times.
“I definitely preferred the old system with only two teams facing each other,” Krejcikova told reporters on Saturday.
French coach Julien Benneteau has echoed similar comments during a recent interview with Ouest-France. The former world No.25 will be hoping to guide his county to winning the title for a second time in a row. His team includes Alize Cornet, Caroline Garcia, Clara Burel and Fiona Ferro.
“We preferred the format before, now there is no point in elaborating,” Benneteau said.
“The situation is what it is.
“We have to adapt.
“I think there are things to adapt in the preparation to be ready in this new configuration.”
The Billie Jean King Cup finals have been split into four groups of three teams. After four days of round-robin matches, the winner of each group will then progress to the semi-finals.
List of Billie Jean King Cup Groups
- A = France, Russia and Canada
- B = Australia, Belarus and Belgium
- C = United States, Spain and Slovakia
- D = Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland
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