US defeats Spain to stage Billie Jean King Cup semi-final against Russia
PRAGUE – The United States won both singles matches against Spain to reach the semi-finals of the Billie Jean King Cup on Wednesday.
The Americans faced an inescapable situation after losing to Slovakia 2-1 in Group C on Tuesday, and Sloane Stephens and Danielle Collins both clinched back-to-back wins to make the double final meaningless.
The United States, the most successful team in the competition formerly known as the Fed Cup with 18 titles, will face Russia in the semi-finals. The Russians eliminated the defending champion from France earlier today.
Stephens beat Nuria Parrizas-Diaz 6-4, 6-4, getting her seventh break of the game in the last game and converting her first match point with a backhand winner.
“I came out very confident, I knew I was ready,” said Stephens, the 2107 US Open champion.
Collins got the second point by beating Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-1, 6-0 in just under an hour to seal the win and eliminate Spain.
“I think in this format every game, every set counts,” said Collins. “For me, I was just on a roll. I think it’s pretty hard to tell when you have a performance like that.”
After sweeping Canada 3-0 the day before, Russia only needed a best-of-three win against France to move up from Group A.
He could count on his best player, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, to deliver him.
Pavlyuchenkova, 12th, rallied to beat Alize Cornet 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 to give Russia place in the semi-finals.
“I am so happy and so proud of myself,” Pavlyuchenkova said. “It was an amazing game. It was really good tennis, but the most important thing was the incredible fighting spirit of both of us.”
After losing the first set, the Russian beat Cornet in the opening matches of the following two sets to improve her record against her 59th-ranked opponent at 7-1, scoring 34 winners along the way.
After the 2019 champion was upset by underdog Canada 2-1 in its opener on Monday, France had to beat Russia 3-0 to qualify.
Last year’s edition was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 12 teams in the final are split into four groups of three teams in a new competition format. Only the group winners advance to the semi-finals on Friday.
Earlier, Clara Burel kept France alive by winning the first single.
Burel, 77th in the standings, upset 32nd-ranked Ekaterina Alexandrova, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 for her first victory over a top 50 player in her singles debut in the competition.
The Russian touched 34 winners but also committed 44 unforced errors before committing a double fault on Burel’s fourth match point.
“It’s very special. It was the first game for my country and I was very happy to be able to win today,” said Burel, 20.
The Russians also won the double for an overall victory of 2-1.