Bencic clinches to set Billie Jean King Cup final between Switzerland and Russia
Belinda Bencic locked up a spot in the Billie Jean King Cup final for Switzerland. They will face Team Russia for the title on Saturday.
Something special happens when Belinda Bencic plays for the Swiss flag, and the Olympic gold medalist in singles isn’t the only one who is playing peak tennis for her country at the Billie Jean King Cup. Bencic clinched Switzerland’s final berth on Friday in Prague, defeating Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia 6-3, 6-2, after red-hot Jil Teichmann raced past Storm Sanders in her first singles match of the week, 6-0, 6-3.
Switzerland will take on Russia, which defeated USA 2-1 on Friday, in Saturday’s final.
Bencic: It’s goosebumps all the time at Billie Jean King Cup
Bencic has been the story for Team Switzerland as she has notched wins over Angelique Kerber, Barbora Krejcikova and Tomljanovic in singles, in addition to winning a tie-clinching doubles rubber with Teichmann against Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova on Thursday.
Bencic says she thrives in the atmosphere, thanks to the emotions that Billie Jean King Cup brings out of her.
“When you step on the court you feel different,” she said. “Your national anthem is played before you go, it’s already goosebumps, for the whole day. Every time we walk out there it’s just goosebumps for me, that’s why when I play I don’t see myself playing for myself in this moment, so I think it brings out the best of me, like I said already, I want to keep it that way for sure, I think it’s really just emotions that make the difference.”
Molik: Give it up to Switzerland
It was a great run for the Aussies in Prague, as they upset Belgium and Belarus to reach the semi-finals, but they could not match the level of Switzerland on Friday, said captain Alicia Molik.
“You have to give credit to the Swiss team today, they played brilliant tennis – they were pretty awesome.” she said. “Belinda Bencic showed why she always mixes it with the best. Olympic gold medallist, really calm under pressure, they were too good, it was simple today.”
Russia edges USA as Samsonova shines on debut
The Russians got a big boost from Liudmila Samsonova, who played – and won – her first ever Billie Jean King Cup singles match on Friday, defeating Sloane Stephens, 1-6, 6-4, 6-3. The win was crucial for Russia, as Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova fell to Danielle Collins in the next match.
Pavlyuchenkova had nothing but praise for Samsonova after she paired with Veronika Kudermetova to clinch the tie with a 6-3 6-3 win over Shelby Rogers and Coco Vandeweghe.
“I think she has a bright future if she continues this way,” she said. “She impressed me today because I wasn’t sure actually, about the decision putting her in – nothing to do with her game, she has an amazing game – because when you have your debut in this kind of format it’s completely different and it’s so mental, so I wasn’t sure how she would handle it and she did just perfect.”