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.
Italian Captain Tathiana Garbin Reveals Rare Tumor Diagnoses After Team’s Loss At BJK Finals
Former top 30 player and captain of the Italian Billie Jean King Cup team Tathiana Garbin has publically announced that she is battling a serious health issue.
Just hours after her team lost to Canada in the Billie Jean King Cup final in Seville on Sunday, the 46-year-old issued a statement confirming that she is undergoing treatment for a rare tumor that has been found in her stomach. Garbin had her first surgery in October but will have to undergo further procedures in the coming weeks.
“I really wish to thank my Federation, which has constantly supported me with extraordinary solidarity and sensitivity,” Gabin said in a statement sent to the news agency Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA).
“Seville was a very important event for me, and I absolutely didn’t want to miss it despite being very close to my operation: the Federation has shown they placed full trust in me. There is nothing that makes me prouder than representing the colors of Italy. “
Gabin says she hopes to raise awareness of medical research and prevention by going public about her condition, as well as hoping to inspire others with her story. She is being treated by Professor Di Candio and Professor Morelli at the Cisanello Hospital in Pisa.
“I thank my BJ King Cup girls, who have shown me incredible love and support. Their presence and support have been a beacon of positivity in these difficult days,” she said in tribute to her team.
“However, I would like to inform you that I will have to undergo a second surgery, required by the treatment planned by the doctors. Thanks to the rapid recovery I have experienced, I am optimistic about being back on court.”
As a player, Garbin peaked at a ranking high of No.22 in singles and No.25 in doubles. Her sole singles title on the WTA Tour occurred in 2000 when she won the Budapest Open in Hungary. Seven years after that, she reached the fourth round of the French Open in what was her best-ever run at a major event.
Garbin has served as Italy’s Billie Jean King Cup captain since 2016.
Doubles Delight: Great Britain Ousts France 2-1 In Davis Cup Classic
Great Britain has won the last spot in the Davis Cup finals by prevailing in a highly dramatic clash against France in front of a record crowd in Manchester.
With the must-win showdown level at 1-1, the tie was decided by a rollercoaster doubles match with Dan Evans and Neil Skupski battling their way past Nicolas Mahut and Édouard Roger-Vasselin 1-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(6). In what was one of the most tense matches ever involving the British team, four match points were saved by the hosts. Evans fended off three whilst serving 4-5 down in the decider before Skupski saved one when he was serving two games later. To add to the drama, in the decisive tiebreaker Britain lost a mini-break advantage twice before prevailing on their second match point.
“I don’t know how we’ve won that fight, sheer fight. Incredible effort from Dan to come out and win this match with me,” said Skupski.
“The first set wasn’t too good. We regrouped, took a toilet [break] and fought as hard as we could. Dan saving three points in the third set. The rest is history and we’re off to Malaga.”
The triumph caps off what has been a marathon day at The AO Arena with all three matches going the full distance. A total of more than 13,000 seats was sold for the tie which is a record for a single day of Davis Cup action in the UK.
Earlier in the day, Evans got Britain off to a perfect start by fighting back from a set and a break down to beat Arthur Fils 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, in what was a close fight. At the end of the encounter, there was a tense exchange between the two which continued during the doubles match with Evans seen making gestures towards the Frenchman who was watching from the stands.
France’s sole victor was Ugo Humbert who beat former Wimbledon semi-finalist Cameron Norrie 7-6(5),3-6, 7-5. A new confidence blow to the British No.1 who has only won back-to-back matches in one out of his past five tournaments.
“The team is amazing. We get on very well. Everyone’s played a part. It’s all those guys and girls standing there (in the stands) who are amazing.” Captain Leon Smith commented.
Britain joins Australia in qualifying from Group B to November’s finals which will be held in Malaga. The team has won all three of their ties played in Manchester with their previous wins being over Australia and Switzerland earlier in the week.
In total, eight teams have secured their place in the finals. Group stages have also been held in Spain, Croatia and Italy with the top two nations from each of those events progressing.
Britain is seeking to win the Davis Cup title for only the second time in the Open Era after 2015.
List of teams through to the knockout stages in Malaga
- Great Britain
- Czech Republic
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.
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