Home » Swiatek sends Poland to BJK Cup Finals; Raducanu wins thriller for the U.K.

Swiatek sends Poland to BJK Cup Finals; Raducanu wins thriller for the U.K.

Poland, Great Britain, the United States, Romania, Germany, Japan, Australia and Slovakia clinched spots in the Billie Jean King Cup Finals on Saturday, each moving one step closer to the prestigious women’s tennis team title.

This weekend’s eight Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers ties were all settled on Saturday, with the winners advancing to November’s Finals in Seville, Spain. Here is a running breakdown of the final day of the Qualifiers:

Poland def. Switzerland 4-0

Iga Swiatek had to contend with a spirited effort by Swiss 18-year-old Celine Naef, but the World No.1 from Poland prevailed 6-4, 6-3 to send her nation back to the Billie Jean King Cup Finals.

Read more: Looking back on Day 1 of the Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers

Despite falling behind an early break, heavy hitting by Swiatek allowed her to eventually take charge. At one point, Swiatek reeled off six straight games to lead 6-4, 4-0, putting her squad on the brink of sweeping 2022 champions Switzerland.

Rising teen Naef, ranked World No.148, showed off big shots and impeccable defense to get back on serve at 4-3 in the second set and put pressure on the Pole. In the end, though, Swiatek righted the ship to pick off the final two games and wrap up the 1-hour and 21-minute win.

Great Britain def. France 3-1

After ending Day 1 tied with France, Day 2 proved to be a banner day for the Brits as Katie Boulter and Emma Raducanu each won their singles matches. For Boulter, her 7-5, 6-0 victory over Clara Burel was the first tour-level clay-court win of her career, putting the U.K. up 2-1.

Raducanu and Diane Parry then put on a thrilling display which went down to the wire in the final singles rubber. Parry found some fierce forehands at the end of the first set to take it 6-4, but Raducanu stormed through the second set 6-1, winning the last 14 points of that set.

The third set veered back and forth, with Parry breaking in the first game before Raducanu stormed to a 5-3 lead. Serving for the match at 5-4, Raducanu held two match points, but Parry rallied her way out of danger, and the match eventually progressed to the decisive tiebreak.

In the breaker, 2021 US Open champion Raducanu took control for good, dominating with her forehand. On her third match point, Raducanu used that wing to force an error, wrapping up a 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(1) win after 2 hours and 52 minutes and sending the Brits into the Finals.

United States def. Belgium 4-0

Friday was a challenging day for the U.S.A., with Jessica Pegula and Emma Navarro both needing to come back from a set down to hold off Belgian 19-year-olds Sofia Costoulas and Hanne Vandewinkel. However, despite the tough matches, the Americans still ended Day 1 up 2-0.

The United States squad was rewarded for their grit on Saturday, when World No.5 Pegula took only 51 minutes to dismiss Vandewinkel 6-2, 6-0 and clinch a Billie Jean King Cup Finals spot for her team. Pegula won 19 of her 20 first-service points in the match (95 percent).

The Americans have won more Billie Jean King Cup titles than any other nation, with 18. Behind their new captain, former World No.1 Lindsay Davenport, the U.S.A. is aiming for their first title since 2017.

Romania def. Ukraine 3-2

The closest tie of the weekend was Romania’s massive comeback over Ukraine. Ana Bogdan and Jaqueline Cristian lost their two singles matches on Friday, but they received the ultimate redemption by going 3-0 on Saturday to send their team into the Finals.

Bogdan started the surge by toppling World No.18 Elina Svitolina 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 for the sixth Top 20 win of her career. Cristian, a Charleston quarterfinalist last week, then leveled the tie by besting Lesia Tsurenko 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.

For the only time all weekend, a Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers tie was settled by a live doubles match. Here, Bogdan and Cristian combined their powers for a 6-2, 7-6(7) win over twin sisters Lyudmyla and Nadiia Kichenok.

The come-from-behind weekend was closed out by a Bogdan backhand return winner on their third match point.

Germany def. Brazil 3-1

Two-time Billie Jean King Cup champions Germany held on to close out Brazil on Saturday. After coming into Day 2 with a 2-0 lead, Germany dropped their first match of the weekend when Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia beat Anna-Lena Friedsam 5-7, 6-0, 6-1.

However, Laura Siegemund, who won the first singles match of the weekend, also won the last singles match, sending Germany back to the Finals. Siegemund topped Carolina Alves 6-1, 2-6, 6-3 in 2 hours and 36 minutes to seal victory.

Japan def. Kazakhstan 3-1

Nao Hibino pulled off a stunning win to book Japan’s spot in the Billie Jean King Cup Finals, squeaking past Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(7) in 2 hours and 10 minutes. 

Putintseva held four consecutive match points at 6-2 in the final-set tiebreak, but Hibino erased them all before battling to victory and sealing an insurmountable 3-0 lead. Hibino and Naomi Osaka (playing her first Billie Jean King Cup tie since 2020) had posted straight-sets wins on Friday.

Australia def. Mexico 4-0

At home in Brisbane, the Aussies clinched victory over Mexico when Taylah Preston defeated Marcela Zacarias 6-1, 6-1 in just 66 minutes. Preston won 73 percent of Zacarias’ second-service points, which led to six service breaks for the 18-year-old Australian.

Australia has won the Billie Jean King Cup seven times, but none since 1974. They came close to breaking that duck two years ago, when they finished runner-up to Switzerland at the 2022 Finals.

Slovakia def. Slovenia 4-0

Slovakia, the 2002 Billie Jean King Cup champions, reached the Finals with a 3-0 sweep of Slovenia. The clinching point was converted by 16-year-old Renata Jamrichova, who defeated Veronika Erjavec 6-2, 6-0.

Jamrichova, who won this year’s Junior Australian Open singles title, needed just 64 minutes to beat Erjavec on Saturday. All three of Slovakia’s singles matches were won by different players this weekend, with Anna Karolina Schmiedlova and Viktoria Hruncakova triumphing on Friday.