Tennis

Switzerland and the Czechs return to the semifinals of the Billie Jean King Cup

Last year’s Billie Jean King Cup runner-up Switzerland are back in the semi-finals after victories by Olympic medalists Belinda Bencic and Viktorija Golubic propelled them to beat Canada 2-0 in the group stage matches. Friday groups.

Switzerland will face the Czech Republic in the semi-finals. On Friday night, the Czechs, 11-time Billie Jean King Cup champions, eliminated 18-time champions the United States 2-0.

Australia will face home team Great Britain in the other semi-final in Glasgow, Scotland.

Bencic secured Friday’s draw for Switzerland by defeating Leylah Fernandez 6-0, 7-5 in the second singles match. Bencic converted six of her 10 break points to win in 89 minutes and level her head-to-head against Fernandez at 2-2.

“I feel like I’m moving really well, and I’m just trying to push myself and fight for every point,” Bencic said on court after his victory. “I think then you get into the groove a little bit and of course it feels great to be pushed by my team and have your heart on your sleeve.”

Brilliant backhands from Bencic helped give him the first seven games of the match. Fernandez’s time kicked into gear as the competition wore on, taking the ball early to keep the second set close, but Bencic served out the match in the second period to seal the tie for the Swiss.

In the first clash of the day, Golubic came back from a set down to defeat 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu 2-6, 6-3, 6-4. Andreescu cut Golubic’s lead in the third set from 4-0 to 5-4, but Golubic found a solid serve in the final game to cruise to victory in 2 hours and 8 minutes.

“Today I had a hard time, and I think my team gave me a lot of support,” Golubic said on court afterward. “They cheered me on a lot because I didn’t start that well, and I think without them, it would be an easy loss in straight sets. But I was also able to get the energy from the crowd, and it was a great match.”

Switzerland is still looking for its first Billie Jean King Cup title. In addition to their runner-up finish last year, they also finished second in 1998.

The Czech Republic claimed the final spot in the semifinal by eliminating the United States with two straight-set wins. Marketa Vondrousova opened the day for the Czechs with a 6-3, 6-3 dismissal of Danielle Collins in 1 hour and 12 minutes.

Vondrousova was playing just her third event on her return from a six-month injury layoff, but has now won her last six singles matches. Former World No.14 Vondrousova won an ITF Challenger title in Shrewsbury, Great Britain last week, pushing her back into the Top 100.

Vondrousova, the 2019 Roland Garros finalist, won 81 per cent of her first serve points to edge past this year’s Australian Open finalist Collins. Collins won a grueling 13-minute game to take an early 3-1 lead, but Vondrousova immediately bounced back, winning the next eight games in a row en route to victory.

Katerina Siniakova then secured the tie with a 7-6(1), 6-1 victory over Coco Gauff. Siniakova, the WTA Doubles World No.1, earned her eighth career Top 10 win in singles by defeating World No.7 Gauff in an hour and a half.

Two breaks of serve each in the first set lined up the tie break, which Siniakova dominated. A forehand winner in the corner gave Siniakova a 4-1 lead at the break, and he capitalized on Gauff’s errors to take a set lead.

Siniakova came through the second set, where she converted both of her break points. Gauff, who was playing her first career Billie Jean King Cup singles match, erred on 18 unforced errors in that set.

The Czech Republic have won six of the last 10 Billie Jean King Cup titles, with their last championship coming in 2018. Siniakova also secured that tie, which also came to the United States, by beating Sofia Kenin in the final singles match. .

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