Billie Jean King Cup wrap: Day 6 – Russia claims fourth title in Switzerland sweep
RUSSIA has claimed its fifth Billie Jean King Cup title, and the inaugural one in this format, defeating Switzerland in a 2-0 sweep overnight. Daria Kasatkina returned to the fold to play the second singles, whilst Liudmila Samsonova fresh off her debut match at the tournament, caused a huge upset to secure the overall win. It was a disappointing end for Switzerland, with neither Jil Teichmann nor Belinda Bencic losing a match in the tournament prior.
Kasatkina came back after missing the semi-final, with the rising talent named in the second singles with the expectation the top-ranked Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova would be named in the first, but instead it was the lowest ranked singles player in Samsonova who would take on the Top 10 ranked Bencic. In the first match however, Kasatkina had to find a way to knock off Teichmann who was yet to lose a Billie Jean King Cup match in her career.
Ranked 11 spots higher than her opponent (28 to 39), Kasatkina produced an easier than expected win given Teichmann’s form. In an hour and 19 minutes, Kasatkina won 6-2 6-4, despite only hitting five winners. She was just consistent and reliable, which meant despite hitting 10 less winners (5-15), she had 18 less unforced errors (13-31) and 12 less forced errors (15-27). Kasatkina broke five times to two, and won 71 per cent of her first serve points, to Teichmann’s 47 per cent.
It was all up to Bencic to keep the Swiss in the contest, or for Samsonova to continue her heroics of the night before. Bencic took the early lead, grabbing the first set 6-3 in 39 minutes. She produced two aces to nil, won 72 and 60 per cent of her first and second serves, and broke two times to one. She also only hit three unforced errors as Samsonova – much like her first set the night before against Sloane Stephens – saw her produce a high volume of unforced errors (16).
That turned around in the second set, with Samsonova’s unforced errors count remaining similar at 15, but her winners shooting up to 14, whilst Bendic had a conservative four winners for five unforced errors. Luckily the Russian saved four break points against, whilst taking one of her two chances. Only dropping two points off her first serve, while Bencic’s success rate dropped to 53 per cent, the stage was set for a brilliant decider.
It lived up to expectation but with Samsonova able to grab the sole break from five chances, whilst saving her two break points against her in order to win it 6-4. It meant the 40th ranked Russia had won 3-6 6-3 6-4, hitting double the amount of winners (30-15), and whilst she also hit 31 more unforced errors (49-18), she forced Bencic into making 19 more errors (39-20). She broke three times compared to two, and won 76 per cent of her first serve points compared to Bencic’s 66 per cent.
The victory marked Russia’s fifth title following on from its golden era where it won four out of a possible five years between 2004-08.
RUSSIA (2) DEFEATED SWITZERLAND (0)
Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated Jil Teichmann (SUI) 6-2 6-4
Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated Belinda Bencic (SUI) 3-6 6-3 6-4
Picture credit: Getty Images