Tennis-Australia knock out Britain to set up BJK Cup final clash with Switzerland

GLASGOW (Reuters) -Australia edged hosts Britain 2-1 in the semi-finals of the Billie Jean King Cup Finals on Saturday to move into the final where they will look to win their first title since 1974 when they take on Switzerland.

Storm Sanders was Australia's hero after she won the first singles rubber before returning for the deciding doubles match alongside 38-year-old Samantha Stosur.

With the tie level at 1-1 following the singles, Sanders and Stosur beat the pairing of Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls 7-6(1) 6-7(5) 10-6 as they returned to the final for the first time since 2019, when they finished runners-up.

"That could have gone either way, credit to the British girls... It's a real honour to represent Australia in the final," Sanders said in a post-match interview while Stosur said "nobody deserved to lose that one".

Britain, who reached the semi-finals for the first time in 41 years, started poorly as Sanders put Australia on the board when she beat Heather Watson 6-4 7-6(3) in the opening singles match.

Sanders is more than 100 rungs below Watson in the rankings but the doubles specialist extended her unbeaten streak in the singles at the BJK Cup finals as she went for her shots and fired 27 winners while the Briton made 39 unforced errors.

"She has great returns, plays super aggressive. I also thought she served really well, really smart, changed it up a lot, threw in a lot of different paces, spins. And I struggled with that," Watson told reporters.

With Australia 1-0 up, the pressure was on Harriet Dart to keep the hosts alive in the tie and she duly delivered with a resounding 7-6(3) 6-2 victory over Ajla Tomljanovic.

Dart started well, taking the game to the world number 33 Tomljanovic to race into a 3-0 lead in the opening set but the Australian broke back and managed to force a tiebreak, which the Briton clinched as her confidence levels grew.

Dart lifted her game in the second set and consolidated a double break to go 4-1 up as she covered the court well and fired winners that had Tomljanovic scrambling.

With the home crowd firmly behind Dart, she served for the set and Tomljanovic's return went long on the first match point as Britain levelled the tie.

In the second semi-final, Switzerland beat the Czech Republic 2-0.

Switzerland's Viktorija Golubic defeated Karolina Muchova 6-4 6-4 in the first singles rubber, before Olympic champion Belinda Bencic beat Karolina Pliskova 6-2 7-6(6) to send the Swiss to their second straight final.

The doubles clash of Bencic and Jil Teichmann against the Czech pairing of Katerina Siniakova and Marketa Vondrousova was not played.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru and Anita Kobylinska in Gdansk;Editing by Christian Radnedge and Clare Fallon)