Tennis

Spain beat Kazakhstan, USA won Billie Jean King Cup final

An exciting Day 2 of the Billie Jean King Cup Finals continued late into the night as Spain completed a clean sweep of Kazakhstan 3-0 and the US edged Poland 2-1 in the deciding doubles match.

All four singles matches in the afternoon session went to three sets. In Group C, Nuria Parrizas Díaz and Paula Badosa were both coming off a break in the deciding set to earn a pair of high-quality clashes over Yulia Putintseva 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(5) and Elena Rybakina 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 respectively.

Parrizas Díaz built a quick 5-1 lead over a restless Putintseva. But once the No.51-ranked Kazakh, who had come from a set down to defeat Katie Boulter on Day 1, found her groove, she looked to be on her way to a second consecutive comeback. Putintseva won 11 of the next 14 games, too late to save the first set, but enough to take a 2-0 lead in the third, thanks to creative point construction and pinpoint accuracy, even from defensive positions.

But Parrizas Diaz held his nerve through a series of tight deuce games, targeting the corners relentlessly with his hard, flat shots. Of the 39 overall winners of the World No. 72, 21 came in the third set. Even when she failed to convert two match points serving at 5-4, Parrizas Diaz remained committed to her strategy.

In the tiebreak that followed, Putintseva saved another two match points with a pair of winners down the line, but Parrizas Diaz converted her sixth chance after 2 hours and 40 minutes when a Putintseva forehand went wide.

Badosa brought a 3-1 record against Rybakina in the second match of the tie and, for the third time in their rivalry, achieved a three-set victory in which she had lost the half set. A masterclass in serving in which the World No.13 landed 67% of her first serves and won 100% of those points saw her seal a dominant first set.

By contrast, Rybakina’s 30% first serve percentage in the opener could only get better, and once she did, the Wimbledon champion had a foothold in the match. The second set saw just one break point between the pair, converted by Rybakina for a decisive 5-3 lead when Badosa’s backhand was broken.

But on a break in the third set, it was Rybakina’s forehand that started to go awry. He made 18 unforced errors in the decider to eight in the second set as Badosa rediscovered her dynamic form from the first set to seal a victory on her Billie Jean King Cup debut in 2 hours and 5 minutes.

Spain completed their clean sweep in the third doubles match when Badosa teamed with Aliona Bolsova to defeat Putintseva and Anna Danilina 6-4, 6-2. Group C will conclude on day 3 with Spain facing Great Britain. All three teams can still potentially advance to the semifinals.

In the first tie to be decided in the third doubles match, Coco Gauff and Caty McNally met for the first time since Miami to seal the victory for the USA, defeating Magda Linette and Alicja Rosolska 6-1, 6-2. in just 47 minutes.

Previously, Danielle Collins had beaten a plucky Magdalena Frech 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2) in 2 hours and 9 minutes. In a classic battle of attack versus defence, Collins’ frustration often boiled over, but the Australian Open finalist capped off the match with a near-flawless performance in the decider tiebreak.

Linette leveled the tie by trailing Madison Keys 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 in the second singles match. Having lost to Keys in straight sets three weeks ago in Guadalajara, Linette reversed that result to notch her third Top 20 win of 2022.

Leave a Comment