BJK Cup: Swiatek powers Poland to finals, Czechs top Britain

LONDON (AP) — New No. 1 Iga Swiatek powered Poland into the Billie Jean King Cup Finals for the first time and they were joined by other newcomers Italy and Kazakhstan on Saturday.

Other winners included old hands the Czech Republic — six-time winners since 2011 — Spain, Canada and the United States.

The United States and Ukraine were 2-2 and playing a decisive doubles in their qualifier in Asheville.

The finals are in November at a venue yet to be decided.

Swiatek overpowered Romania’s Andreea Prisacariu 6-0, 6-0 in the first reverse singles to secure Poland’s unassailable lead. She’s won 19 straight matches, two as the world No. 1 after Ash Barty’s retirement.

“It took us a few years, step by step, to progress and qualify finally,” Swiatek said. “Hopefully in the finals we’re going to show even more progress. I’m really proud of us.”

Poland eventually won 4-0.

Camila Giorgi earned the decisive third point for Italy against France in Alghero.

Giorgi routed Harmony Tan 6-2, 6-0. Tan was given her cup debut ahead of Alize Cornet but Giorgi was in a dominating mood. Italy has won six successive ties.

“We are not just happy, we are in seventh heaven,” Italy captain Tathiana Garbin said.

France has lost three straight ties since winning the 2019 final.

Kazakhstan upset visiting Germany in Nur-Sultan when Elena Rybakina overhauled Angelique Kerber 4-6, 6-3, 7-5. Kerber, trying to keep Germany alive, broke for 5-3 in the decider but Rybakina suddenly produced her best tennis in front of raucous support and won the last four games.

The Kazakhs won 3-1.

The Czechs were taken the distance by Britain and prevailed 3-2 in Prague.

The makeshift pair of Karolina Muchova, playing her first cup doubles since 2019, and Marketa Vondrousova, playing her first cup doubles, beat Harriet Dart and Katie Swan 6-1, 7-5.

Vondrousova, the 2019 French Open finalist appearing at her home club, started the day by drubbing U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu 6-1, 6-1.

Raducanu took a medical timeout after the first set for a blister on her right foot which worsened.

Dart kept Britain in the tie with her first cup singles win when she beat 16-year-old Czech debutant Linda Fruhvirtova 6-0, 5-7, 6-2 in two-plus hours.

After a short break, Dart went out for the doubles, her third match in two days, but Vondrousova trumped her by winning all three Czech points.

Spain advanced without dropping a set against the host Netherlands in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

Sara Sorribes Tormo earned a second point when she defeated Arantxa Rus 6-0, 6-4 in the first reverse singles. Spain wrapped up a 4-0 win after taking the doubles, too.

Leylah Fernandez secured Canada’s place in the finals for a second straight year when she clinched the third point against Latvia with two matches to spare. Fernandez beat Daniela Vismane 6-2, 6-1 for her second singles win in her Vancouver hometown.

In Asheville, Asia Muhammad and Jessica Pegula defeated Lyudmyla Kichenok and Dayana Yastremska 7-6 (5), 6-3 in the final match of the tie to lift the United States over Ukraine 3-2.

Ukraine entered the day down 2-0 after singles wins by Pegula and Alison Riske on Friday, but the tables quickly turned in the reverse singles on Saturday as Yastremska beat Pegula 6-3, 6-4 to keep Ukraine’s hopes alive.

Katarina Zavatska then upended Shelby Rogers 6-3, 6-4 in the second match to level the tie for Ukraine before the U.S. rallied in the doubles to clinch the tie.

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