Italy dumps France from BJK Cup Finals

IN a huge upset, Italy has taken down world number two France in the Billie Jean King (BJK) Cup Qualifiers to ensure their place in the Finals for the first time. France, who won as recently as 2019 – which is only two tournaments ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic – will not compete in the Finals, and will instead head to the Playoffs to try and remain in the world group. With reigning champions Russia also barred from competing, it means the Czech Republic (2018) will be the most recent winner at the tournament, having escaped a scare from Great Britain in their own Qualifier.

Italy (3) defeated [2] France (1)

Ranked 17th in the world, Italy caused a stir by winning the first three matches agains France to claim the victory, albeit with the world number twos not at full strength. Instead, it was the full-strength Italians of Jasmine Paolini and Camila Giorgi who stormed to wins, with the latter only dropping five games in total against two opponents in Oceane Dodin and Harmony Tan. France managed to get one back with Dodin pairing with Kristina Mladenovic for the singles, but no Caroline Garcia hurt the visitors.

[4] Czech Republic (3) defeated Great Britain (2)

It went down to the wire, but the doubles pairing of Karolina Muchova and Marketa Vondrousova got the job done against Harriet Dart and Katie Swan to claim the victory over Great Britain, 3-2. Vondrousova carried the side in the absence of Barbora Krejcikova, her doubles partner Katerina Siniakova, Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova. Though Dart – who defeated teenager Linda Fruhvirtova in the Czech’s Billie Jean King Cup debut – and Emma Raducanu – who defeated Tereza Martincova – showed resistance, the 2019 Roland Garros runner-up only dropped three games in destroying both of them in a brilliant weekend.

[3] USA defeated Ukraine (2)

Third seeds United States also survived a scare from Ukraine who were missing Elina Svitolina, winning the tie-deciding doubles. Jessica Pegula and Asia Muhammad won in a tight one 7-6 6-3 to book the USA’s place in the Finals, having copped more than they bargained for against the 24th ranked European nation. After Alison Riske and Jessica Pegula got the home side out to a 2-0 start, Dayana Yastremska bounced back against Pegula, and Katarina Zavatska stunned Shelby Rogers. It was not to be though, going down in the doubles and sending the 2017 winners back to the Finals.

Poland (4) defeated [9] Romania (0)

The lowest ranked nation to secure a place in the Billie Jean King Cup Finals will be Poland, after the 19th ranked side toppled ninth seeds Romania. Though Romania has the impressive depth, Poland has the red-hot Iga Swiatek, and the new world number one completely crushed her opponents by dropping just one game in both matches as Poland cruised to a 4-0 sweep.

Kazakhstan (3) defeated [6] Germany (1)

The other unseeded nation to win through was Kazakhstan, as the 16th ranked side took out sixth seeds Germany. At full-strength, the pairing of Yulia Putintseva and Elena Rybakina stepped up, with both taking out German Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber in three set matches. Kerber was a set up in both, but fell in three, whilst Rybakina also defeated Laura Siegemund.

[9] Canada (4) defeated Latvia (0) |…| [10] Spain (4) defeated Netherlands (0)

In the other two matches, Canada and Spain both made light work of Latvia and Netherlands respectively in 4-0 sweeps. US Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez only dropped six games in total in a dominant performance against a Latvian side without any Top 200 players. Meanwhile Spain saw Sara Sorribes Tormo (two wins) and Nuria Parrizas Diaz (one) pick up victories over Arantxa Rus and Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove.

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