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Pavlyuchenkova tops Cornet as Russia eliminates defending Billie Jean King Cup champion France

Defending Billie Jean King Cup champions France were eliminated from semi-final contention by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Russia on Wednesday in Prague.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova Fed Cup 2021 Tennis – Billie Jean King Cup – Finals – O2 Arena, Prague, Czech Republic – November 3, 2021 Russian Tennis Federation’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova celebrates winning her group stage match against France’s Alize Cornet || 211588_0053
  • What happened: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova defeated Alize Cornet, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 in 2:23 on Wednesday at Billie Jean King Cup in Prague.
  • Why it matters: Russia eliminated France, the defending champs from semi-final contention.
  • You may also learn: How Clara Burel notched one of her biggest career wins in the tie’s first rubber to keep France alive.

France’s reign as Billie Jean King Cup champions has come to an end. Anastasia delivered a three-set victory over Alize Cornet to send Russia to the semi-finals, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2. The victory eliminated France, who needed a clean sweep of Russia to win Group A, from contention.

Russia will face the Group C winner, which will be decided this evening in Prague. Slovakia leads the group, but the USA and Spain have yet to be eliminated – the two nations will contest the final Group C tie.

In the first rubber, 77th-ranked Clara Burel engineered a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 upset of Ekaterina Alexandrova to keep France’s hopes temporarily alive. Burel’s win over the world No 32 was her first career top 50 win.

Pavlyuchenkova: It was an amazing, incredible fighting spirit

Russia’s Pavlyuchenkova had praise for Cornet’s effort and talked about how she had to fight through to clinch the victory in her post-match press conference.

“I’m really tired right now, because I gave it all out there physically and emotionally,” she said. “At the end of the second set I even felt like I didn’t have much push left.” 

The Russian says she gets an extra boost of energy from playing the Billie Jean King Cup .

“In the end I found this amazing energy and I was in that sort of zone, and vibe – I think that’s the beauty of our sport. You don’t get a chance to actually witness that in every match, unfortunately. Thanks to Alize, she pushed and pulled a lot of it out of me. Thanks to her as well – I think it was an amazing, incredible fighting spirit match.” 

Pavlyuchenkova, who has reached her maiden Grand Slam final and won an Olympic gold medal in doubles this year, hopes to finish her season by claiming her first Billie Jean King Cup Final. She’s enjoying every second of the quest.

“This competition is very different,” she said. “I have this special energy from my teammates and from the team on the side. The crowd is more lively, everything is more lively and you have more energy. That’s what I am missing, I think, when I play singles tournaments. I missed that atmosphere and I think it’s important for me to have that.” 

Benneteau: Disappointed but proud of French team

After elimination, French captain Julien Benneteau says he was proud of the effort his team put forth, and he singled out Burel for her fantastic performance.

“We are disappointed tonight because we are out of the competition, but today I’m proud about my two players on my side,” he said, according to Reem Abulleil of Billie Jean King Cup. “They both played two great matches. Clara, for her first singles match in the Billie Jean King Cup, she beat a very, very good player, she found the solutions to come back after one set down and to be able to win like this is very good.”

Benneteau also praised the effort of Cornet and thanked her for her leadership.

“I was impressed by the way she played today, the heart she gave on the court, and during this week she was an example for the rest of the team.”

USA tops Spain, will face Russia in semi-finals

The Americans rebounded from a shaky effort against Slovakia on Tuesday to take their place at the top of Group C on Wednesday, thanks to a 2-1 win over Spain. Sloane Stephens defeated Nuria Parrizas Diaz 6-4, 6-4, and Danielle Collins delivered the knockout blow, zooming past Sara Sorribes Tormo, 6-1, 6-0 in 59 minutes.

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