World No.1 Iga Swiatek won her 19th straight match on Saturday, leading Poland into the finals of the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup, the preeminent team competition in women’s professional tennis.
Swiatek gave Poland an insurmountable 3-0 lead in their qualifying tie against Romania with a flawless 6-0, 6-0 victory over Andreea Prisacariu. Top-ranked Swiatek converted all six of her break points en route to the 52-minute win.
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By adding yet another triumph to her career-best winning streak, Swiatek gained Poland’s required third match-win of the week, qualifying her country for the November finals. 12 nations will compete for the prestigious crown in the finals.
In another clash, the Czech Republic were pushed to the brink before winning their tie 3-2 over Great Britain. The Czechs will head to the finals as the most recent dominant Billie Jean King Cup team, having won a staggering six of the last ten editions.
On Saturday, Olympic silver medalist Marketa Vondrousova started the Czechs off with a sturdy 6-1, 6-1 win over reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu.
Raducanu had played and won her first professional clay-court match on Friday, but 2019 Roland Garros finalist Vondrousova was too solid for the British teenager on Saturday, prevailing in just over an hour.
However, Britain’s Harriet Dart leveled the tie at 2-2 with a 6-0, 5-7, 6-2 win over 16-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova. The Czech teen was down 2-5 in the second set, but saved three match points in a five-game run to steal it. But Dart recovered to collect the third set, lining up a decisive doubles match.
In the doubles, Vondrousova and Karolina Muchova teamed up to achieve a 6-1, 7-5 win over Dart and Katie Swan, putting the Czechs through after a nail-biting Saturday. Crafty left-hander Vondrousova finished the week by winning all three of the Czech’s points.
Kazakhstan also clinched a spot in November’s finals as Elena Rybakina outlasted Germany’s Angelique Kerber 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 in a battle between two of the world’s Top 20 players.
Former World No.1 Kerber broke Rybakina at love for a 5-3 lead in the third set, but Rybakina rebounded with aplomb, winning the next four games consecutively to give Kazakhstan the win and an unbeatable 3-0 lead for the weekend.
“The match was very difficult,” Rybakina said afterward, as reported by the Billie Jean King Cup website. “But I was tuned in. I understood that, of course, we would both fight to the last point.”
Four-time champion Italy also qualified for the finals, after Camila Giorgi gave her squad a 3-0 lead over three-time champion France with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Harmony Tan. Giorgi won 62 percent of points returning the Tan serve to ease to victory.
Five-time champion Spain also romped into the November finals. Sara Sorribes Tormo bested Arantxa Rus 6-0, 6-4, giving the Spaniards the determining 3-0 advantage over the Netherlands.
More to come…