Morning Chronicle - Swiatek powers Poland into BJK Cup Finals, Czechs beat Britain

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Swiatek powers Poland into BJK Cup Finals, Czechs beat Britain
Swiatek powers Poland into BJK Cup Finals, Czechs beat Britain / Photo: Sander Koning - ANP/AFP

Swiatek powers Poland into BJK Cup Finals, Czechs beat Britain

World number one Iga Swiatek helped Poland qualify for the Billie Jean King Cup Finals on Saturday, while Emma Raducanu suffered a heavy defeat as Britain were edged out by the Czech Republic.

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Swiatek crushed Romania's 324th-ranked Andreea Prisacariu 6-0, 6-0 in 45 minutes to seal victory for hosts Poland in Radom.

"Really proud of us," said Swiatek who only dropped one game in her two singles rubbers this weekend.

"It's been a long journey. It took us a few years, step by step to progress and qualify finally.

"It just shows how strong a team we are. Hopefully in the Finals we are going to show even more progress, and we're going to succeed."

Poland will be hoping to improve on their best ever performance in the competition -- a quarter-final run in 1992 -- in the finals in November.

In Prague, the Czechs secured victory over Britain in a deciding doubles rubber, with Karolina Muchova and Marketa Vondrousova beating Harriet Dart and Katie Swan 6-1, 7-5.

Vondrousova beat US Open champion Raducanu 6-1, 6-1 to give the hosts the lead in the first reverse singles.

"The score looks easy but it was a tough match and she was a bit injured," said Vondrousova.

Raducanu had dragged Britain back into the tie in her first professional match on clay on Friday with a hard-fought victory over Tereza Martincova, but she struggled on Saturday.

"I have a blister on my foot, it kind of showed up after yesterday's match," she told the BBC.

"It completely stopped me from moving, it's tough to not even be able to chase the ball.

"In some sort of twisted way it gives me a sense of confidence and relief that I don't think it's my tennis that's the issue."

The outdoor match started with the temperature at just 6 degrees celsius.

"I never played in such cold weather," said Vondrousova.

Dart then dragged the British level despite some nervous moments as she beat 16-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova 6-0, 5-7, 6-2.

Dart led 5-2 in the second set before faltering as Fruhvirtova won five straight games. But when Dart led by the same margin in the third, she did not waver, holding to 15 to win.

She could not repeat her heroics in the doubles, though, as the higher-ranked Czech pair dominated.

- Kazakhstan qualify -

Elena Rybakina clinched victory for Kazakhstan over Germany, winning 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 against Angelique Kerber in Nur-Sultan to take her country to the finals for the first time.

"The match was very difficult," Rybakina said. "But I was tuned in."

In Sardinia, Camila Giorgi won 12 successive games as she dispatched Harmony Tan of France 6-2, 6-0 to give Italy an unassailable 3-0 advantage.

Tan, ranked 107th in the world, was preferred to 34th-ranked Alize Cornet and jumped into a 2-0 lead before the hard-hitting Giorgi took complete control.

"I'm happy, it was a great match," Giorgi said. "At the beginning it was a bit difficult, then I fixed my game."

Since winning the competition for the third time in 2019, France have lost all three ties they have played.

Spain are the only away team to win so far as Sara Sorribes Tormo sealed their place in the finals by beating Arantxa Rus 6-0, 6-4 in s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands.

The United States lead Ukraine 2-0 and Canada lead Latvia 2-0, with those ties to be completed later Saturday.

The qualifiers will join Switzerland, Australia, Belgium and Slovakia in the finals later this year.

Defending champions Russia and Belarus have been expelled from the competition due to the invasion of Ukraine.