ITF Chief Eyes Turning Billie Jean King Cup Finals Into Multi-City Event - UBITENNIS
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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.

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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

Fed Cup

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.

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Emma Raducanu reacts during a Women's Singles quarterfinal match at the 2021 US Open, Wednesday, Sep. 8, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Garrett Ellwood/USTA)

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.

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Fed Cup

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.

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British Billie Jean King Cup Team (@the_LTA - Twitter)

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

https://twitter.com/BJKCup/status/1456980259119767555

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Fed Cup

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.

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Daria Kasatkina (@usopen - Twitter)

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.

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