Australia beat Britain to prepare for a final with Switzerland
Australia beat hosts Britain 2-1 in the semi-finals of the Billie Jean King Cup on Saturday to move into the final where they will bid for their first title since 1974 when they take on Switzerland.
Storm Sanders was the reigning Australian champion after winning her first singles rubber before returning for the deciding doubles match alongside 38-year-old Samantha Stosur.
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With the singles tied at 1-1, Sanders and Stosur beat the duo of Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nichols 7-6(1) 6-7(5) 10-6 as they returned to the final for the first time since. 2019, when they finished as runners-up.
“It could have happened either way, credit goes to the British girls… It’s a real honor to represent Australia in the final,” Sanders said in a post-match interview while Stosur said.
Britain, first semi-finalists in 41 years, started poorly as Sanders put Australia on the board when they beat Heather Watson 6-4, 7-6 (3) in their opening singles match.
Sanders moves more than 100 places below Watson in the world rankings but the doubles specialist extended her unbeaten streak in singles at the BJK Cup finals as she cruised her shots and notched 27 winners while the Briton made 39 unforced errors.
“She has great returns, plays super hard. I also thought she served really well, really smart, changed it up a lot, threw a lot of different pace, spin. I struggled with that,” Watson told reporters.
With Australia leading 1-0, the pressure was on Harriet Dart to keep the hosts alive in the encounter and she pulled off a resounding 7-6(3) 6-2 victory over Agla Tomljanović.
Dart started well, taking the match to world number 33 Tomljanovic to take a 3-0 lead in the opening set but the Australian pulled back and managed to force a tiebreaker, which the Briton decided as her confidence levels grew.
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Dart lifted her game in the second set and powered up a double break to take a 4-1 lead as she blanketed the court well and fired the winners that sent Tomljanović scrambling.
With the ground crowd firmly behind Dart, she served for the set and Tomljanović’s comeback went long on the first match point as Britain equalised.
In the second semi-final, Switzerland beat the Czech Republic 2-0.
Switzerland’s Viktoria Golubic beat Karolina Mošová 6-4, 6-4 in the first singles rubber, before Olympic champion Belinda Bencic beat Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 7-6(6) to send Switzerland to their second consecutive final.
The doubles match between Bencic and Gil Teichmann against Czech duo Kateryna Siniakova and Marka Vondrousova was not played.
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