Switzerland reach BJK Cup semis in Olympic final revenge

·3-min read
Let's party! Belinda Bencic celebrates with her team-mates after she and Jil Teichmann defeated Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic (AFP/Michal Cizek)

Belinda Bencic and Jil Teichmann gained revenge for the Olympic doubles final on Thursday as they led Switzerland past the Czech Republic to the Billie Jean King Cup semi-finals.

The Swiss duo beat Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova 6-3, 6-3 to hand Switzerland a 2-1 win over the home side at the rebranded version of the Fed Cup and set up a semi-final clash with Australia.

The win will taste extra sweet for the Swiss as Bencic and Viktorija Golubic lost this year's Olympic final to Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova.

In the singles rubbers earlier on Thursday, Marketa Vondrousova swept Golubic 6-4, 6-2 and Bencic beat Krejcikova 7-6 (7/2), 6-4.

In Thursday's opening tie, Australia beat Belarus 2-1 as Storm Sanders eased past Yuliya Hatouka 6-3, 6-3 and Ajla Tomljanovic beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Sasnovich and Lidziya Marozava then snatched a consolation point for Belarus by beating Olivia Gadecki and Ellen Perez 6-4, 6-4 in the doubles rubber.

"I played good tennis today, I was very nervous but happy to get the win," said Sanders.

"I didn't get broken the whole match so I'm really happy with how I served today."

Tomljanovic got off to a stumbling start in her first appearance at the tournament, letting Sasnovich go 4-0 up and then win the set.

But she managed two breaks in the second set and then added another four in the third set against three for the increasingly nervous Belarusian.

"There's really no greater feeling, I was happy I could come out today and the fact that I got the point makes me unbelievably happy," said the Croatian-born Tomljanovic.

- 'Just a few points' -

In the evening tie, Golubic stormed into the match against Vondrousova, taking a 4-1 lead.

But Vondrousova weathered the crisis as she improved her serve and ventured up to the net more frequently.

The Czech powered on in the second, building up a 4-0 lead against the increasingly desperate, racket-smashing Golubic, and then holding on to her serve to please the home crowd.

"It's definitely a relief, I think it was a great game," said Vondrousova.

"I'm happy I turned it around, it was a matter of just a few points."

But the joy at Prague's O2 Arena did not last long as Bencic, who had beaten Vondrousova in the Olympic singles final, stepped out onto the court, taking a quick 3-0 lead against French Open champion Krejcikova.

Bencic went 5-2 up but Krejcikova recovered and levelled, taking the set to a tie-break in which the more aggressive Bencic prevailed.

The tug-of-war continued in a nervous second set, in which Bencic earned an extra break to see off the impatient Krejcikova.

In the doubles rubber, the Swiss looked more compact than the higher-ranking Czech pair.

They held on to their serve throught the match with Teichmann flawless at the net and Bencic adding the flair she had taken from her singles win.

"The key was to go full risk because they have an absolutely great team," said Bencic.

"I think Jil was perfect for this, she's an all-in girl and I'm happy I could be her partner today."

Russia will face the United States in Friday's other semi-final. The final is on Saturday.

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