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Pro Media & News

2022 Billie Jean King Cup Finals: Gauff, McNally reunite to lead U.S. past Poland

Victoria Chiesa | November 09, 2022


GLASGOW, Scotland -- It was like they never left. On Wednesday night inside Glasgow's Emirates Arena, the doubles team called 'McCoco' was back doing what they do best. Winning.

 

Playing together for the first time in seven months, Coco Gauff and Caty McNally cruised to a 47-minute, 6-1, 6-2 win over Magda Linette and Alicja Rosolska that gave the U.S. a 2-1 win over Poland in the Americans' first round-robin Group D tie of the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup Finals. 

 

U.S. captain Kathy Rinaldi made the decision to substitute Gauff, who arrived from the WTA Finals in Forth Worth, Texas, for the initially-nominated Taylor Townsend after the U.S. and Poland split two marathon singles matches. Danielle Collins got the night started with a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2) win over Magdalena Frech in 2 hours, 9 minutes, but Linette hit back for the underdog Poland, playing here without the services of world No. 1 Iga Swiatek, with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 win over Madison Keys that also lasted more than two hours. 

 

"Obviously, when we were at 1-All, I thought, Coco's one of our, well, was the No. 1 world doubles player [this year], and I just have so much confidence in her," Rinaldi said after the tie ended. "I know it's been a lot of travel and a lot of tennis for her lately, but she was up for the challenge. I couldn't have been more proud.

 

"Then for Caty, with her debut, I thought it was perfect for them to play together and, boy, did they not disappoint. That was some beautiful, beautiful doubles."

 

In sync from the first ball, Gauff and McNally lost just five points in the match's first five games, and wrapped up the opening set in 20 minutes. Just one game of 15 went to deuce; Gauff staved off a break point at deuce—Billie Jean King Cup doubles is played with no-ad scoring—serving at 2-1 in the second set. 

For Gauff, the win was a bit of a palate cleanser. She came to Glasgow after going 0-6 combined in singles and doubles in her WTA Finals debut. 

 

"To be honest, one of the motivations, after having a tough time in Fort Worth, is that I want to finish the year on a positive note," Gauff said. 

 

"I was ready to go. When Kathy asked me, I told her 'I'm ready.' Last minute, had to change my outfit and warm-up all within a span of 15 minutes. I knew playing with Caty, it was going to be a good time, and I knew she's the type of person that no matter how long we go without playing or maybe talking to each other in-person that when we step on the court, when we see each other ... it's like peanut butter and jelly just go together."

Both Gauff and McNally earned their first Billie Jean King Cup victory with the triumph, and they're the 83rd and 84th players to suit up for the U.S. team all-time. While Gauff was named to the team in the 2020 qualifying round but didn't play, this Finals is McNally's debut.

 

"Kathy told me earlier today that I was going to be playing doubles, so I don't think it's easy sitting around all day, but I was super motivated to get out there," McNally said. "When I heard I was playing with Coco, no matter who it was with, I was excited to play, but we haven't played together in a while. Like she said, our games just gel together super well. We get along, we have so much fun. I think that's the key is we just enjoy each other's presence out there.

 

"I thought we played amazing tonight and just couldn't have asked for a better debut."

 

Collins and Keys both earned straight-sets wins over their Polish opponents last month at the WTA 1000 event In Guadalajara, but were given much tougher tests from their lower-ranked foes this time around. Despite 102 spots between them in the rankings, Collins was given all she could handle by Frech's combination of solid defense and strong serving; after losing the last three games of the second set, she fell behind an early break at 2-1 in the third.

 

The reigning Australian Open final immediately leveled, and saved two more break points at 2-2 and another at 4-4. In the tiebreak, she found her best tennis; a bilstering forehand return winner gave her a 4-2 lead at the change of ends, and she emphatically closed out the match little more than a moment later with two unreturned serves.

 

"I'm relieved that I got to the finish line, obviously not playing my best tennis there at times," Collins, who hit 47 winners and 45 unforced errors, said in her on-court interview. "So [it's] a little bit challenging when you're dealing with that when you're playing on a team, because you want to win for your team so badly and do the best that you can.

 

"I just felt like I was falling short a lot of that match and just not playing at my normal level. I just had to be patient and try to give myself enough rhythm and make adjustments as much as I could, and just stay in it and fight. ... So that's all I kept telling myself, 'Don't give up.'"

 

After Gauff and McNally's victory ended after 12:30 a.m. local time, the U.S. will have a well-earned day off from a match on Thursday. On Friday, the team looks to book its place in the semifinals when it faces the Czech Republic on Centre Court, not before 4:30 p.m. local time. The tie will air live on Tennis Channel. 

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