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Czech Republic, Spain win but France loses on Day 1 of the Billie Jean King Cup Finals

Czech Republic, six-time winners in the past 10 years, kicked off their 2021 Billie Jean King Cup campaign with a tough win while defending champions France suffered a surprising loss to Canada on Day 1 in Prague

November 1, 2021 Czech Republic's Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova react during their group stage doubles match against Germany's Jule Niemeier and Anna-Lena Friedsam November 1, 2021 Czech Republic’s Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova react during their group stage doubles match against Germany’s Jule Niemeier and Anna-Lena Friedsam Image Credit: AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Billie Jean King Cup heavyweights Czech Republic scored a thrilling win over Germany at the 2021 Billie Jean King Cup Finals at the O2 Arena in Prague, joining Spain, Belgium and Canada as winners at the end of play on Day 1 of the team tennis competition.

The Czech duo of Katerina Siniakova and Lucie Hradecka defeated Germans Anna-Lena Friedsam and Jule Niemeier 6-4, 6-7(2), 10-8 in the deciding doubles tie after the two countries had split the singles meetings.

The Czechs, who have won this title six times in the past decade, won the first singles as Olympic silver medalist Marketa Vondrousova beat former Top 10 player Andrea Petkovic 6-1, 6-3. Former world No 1 Angelique Kerber equaled the tie with a 6-7(5), 6-0, 6-4 win over world No 3 Barbora Krejcikova.

The second tie of the evening session between Spain and Slovakia was also decided in the doubles rubber. Viktoria Kuzmova gave Slovakia a 1-0 lead with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 win over Carla Suarez Navarro. The Spaniard, who fought her way back to the tour after overcoming Hodgkins Lymphoma, is playing the final event of her career before retiring.

Spain bounced back as Sara Sorribes Tormo leveled the tie with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 victory over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in a two-hour 45-minute marathon, followed by Suarez Navarro and Sorribes Torom beat Kuzmova and Tereza Mihalikova 4-6, 6-2, 10-7 to win the doubles.

Defending Billie Jean King Cup champions France upset by Canada

November 1, 2021 Canada's Francoise Abanda celebrates after winning her group stage match against France's Fiona Ferro
November 1, 2021 Canada’s Francoise Abanda celebrates after winning her group stage match against France’s Fiona Ferro Image Credit: AI / Reuters / Panoramic

In the day session, 2019 Billie Jean King Cup champions France were upset by Canada, who joined Belgium as winners in the day session.

France’s hopes of defending the title they won in 2019 (the tournament was not held in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic) received a blow as they went down 2-1 loss to Canada.

World No 353 Francoise Abanda upset 105th ranked Fiona Ferro 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to give Canada a 1-0 lead. Former world No 11 Alize Cornet got France back on equal footing with a 6-4, 7-6(5) win over Rebecca Marino. However, Marino and Gabriela Dabrowski beat Cornet and Clara Burel 6-3, 7-6(6) to give the Canadians the win.

Belgium won the opening two singles matches of their rubber against Belarus to gurantee themselves a win. Greet Minnen beat Iryna Shymanovich 6-2, 6-2 and Elise Mertens defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 to give the Belgians the victory. Belarus managed to salvage the doubles rubber with Sasnovich and Vera Lapko beating Mertens and Kirsten Flipkens 6-4, 6-3.

The tournament has 12 nations competing in four groups of three teams each. Each team plays one another in a round-robin format in the group stage with the winners from each group advancing to the knock out semi-final stage.

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