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2022 Billie Jean King Cup Finals: Czechs beat U.S. for semifinal berth

Victoria Chiesa | November 11, 2022

GLASGOW, Scotland - It was a match that wouldn't have been out of place on championship Sunday, but when Friday's play began at the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge Finals, only one of two perennial powerhouses in women's tennis' flagship team competition—the U.S. and the Czech Republic—would be left standing. 


A winner-take-all finale in Group D determined which nation would join Australia, Switzerland and hosts Great Britain in this weekend's semifinals, and thanks to victories by Marketa Vondrousova and Katerina Siniakova, that'll be the Czechs. 


A match between two Grand Slam finalists started the evening, and one between two women who've reached the WTA's top ranking in doubles clinched the Czechs' victory. Vondrousova defeated Danielle Collins 6-3, 6-3 in the tie's first match, and current doubles world No. 1 Siniakova edged her counterpart Coco Gauff in a tight opening set before running away with a 7-6(1), 6-1 victory. The tie eventually ended 2-1 as Madison Keys and Taylor Townsend wrapped up the action with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Karolina Muchova and Karolina Pliskova. 


"We knew it was going to be tough," U.S. captain Kathy Rinaldi said afterwards. "Czech Republic has obviously a very strong roster and a lot of different players they could play. They came out ready to play today. They competed well. We have to give credit to them. Obviously, we are disappointed, but we have to give credit to our opponents. They brought it. They were ready and competed extremely well today."

The tie started brightly for the U.S. as Collins, bidding for her first win in three matches against Vondrousova, broke the left-hander's serve in a marathon eight-deuce game for a 3-1 lead.


But it was the last game that Collins would win for the better part of a half hour: Vondrousova ripped off the next eight in a row to take a 6-3, 3-0 lead—and that included 12 of the first 13 points of the second set. 


It was more than enough to stake the Czechs to a 1-0 advantage. After losing the first 16 points on return in the set, Collins had a 0-30 opportunity on Vondrousova's serve at 4-2, and 15-30 at 5-3, but never got a look at another break point.

"I think she got a lot of confidence after coming back when I was up in the first set 3-1, and I think she kind of took that confidence and ran with it and was going for her shots a lot," Collins said in defeat. 


"I think my timing sometimes was really off unfortunately. I think I had a little bit of some challenges getting adjusted to the speed of the court here, and along with her being a lefty it just threw a lot of trouble my way. I also felt at times I was setting up the points well and the way that I wanted to and just couldn't close them out, so that was frustrating and disappointing."


Gauff came to court next for her Billie Jean King Cup singles debut hoping to extend the tie. She brought a string of success against Siniakova with her: She was 3-0 previously against the 26-year-old Czech, with whom she shared the WTA's top doubles ranking this year, having only lost one set. 


The first set, which lasted nearly an hour, proved crucial. Siniakova broke Gauff's serve in the first game, and again at 2-2, but the two players wound towards a tiebreak after Gauff got even at 4-4. After the American won the first point, though, it was all Siniakova. In her first singles match in a fortnight, she won the last seven points of the tiebreak, and stunningly, the last 15 of the match after breaking Gauff in the second set's fourth game.


"I was trying to keep telling myself that I don't need to win, because we are the one who is leading," Siniakova said. "I think it really helped me. ... I was just fighting. In the end, I played better, so I'm really happy it went this way."


The U.S. will now await to see where it lands in the draw for the qualifying round of the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup, which will be held Sunday at Emirates Arena prior to this year's final. The 10 nations that finish in third through 12th place at the 2022 Finals, and the eight winners of the Billie Jean King Cup Play-offs taking place this weekend, will play in nine traditional home-and-away ties the weekend of April 14-15, 2023. The winners of those ties will advance to the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge Finals.  

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