Swiss reach Fed Cup semis
Belinda Bencic sealed the Fed Cup tie in the fourth rubber with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Pauline Parmentier – a late replacement for Alize Cornet.
“Five minutes before the match I was focusing on Alize Cornet and that was not an easy situation to get switched opponents like this but I just had to play my game and focus on myself,” said Bencic, who was forced to watch from the bench last year when Switzerland lost in the semi-finals to eventual champions Czech Republic.
Earlier, Swiss No.1 Timea Bacsinszky beat Kristina Mladenovic 7-6(7) 4-6 7-5 in the third rubber to put the home team in control on the final day.
“It’s obviously a great feeling [to seal the victory] but I think Timea did a huge job so hats off to her – she won an amazing singles before which made it a lot easier for me to go out and make the third point but I am very happy I won today,” said Bencic. “It feels amazing. We were so happy when we beat Germany last year to go to the semis and now we try to go to the final.”
Providing Bencic and Bacsinszky can stay fit, Heinz Guenthart’s team will fancy their chances against surprise semi-finalists Belarus, who beat Netherlands 3-1 in Minsk. In the absence of two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka, 18-year-old Aryna Sabalenka and Aliaksandra Sasnovich were the heroines at the Chizhovka Arena.
Meanwhile, defending champions Czech Republic continued their dominance in the competition with a 3-2 victory over a strong Spain team in Ostrava.
Karolina Pliskova needed just 60 minutes to beat Garbine Muguruza 6-2 6-2 before Barbora Strycova beat Lara Arruabarrena to clinch the all-important third point and a place in a ninth straight semi-final for Petr Pala’s team.
“It was a great day today,” said Pala. “Karolina put in a really great performance from the beginning to the end. She showed she is a great player and a great Fed Cup player.”
Strycova added: “It’s very special. Especially when we play at home. The crowd loves us and we love them. They support us so much, it’s great to give them these matches.”
Jose Martinez Sanchez and Sara Sorribes Tormo beat Lucie Safarova and debutant Katerina Siniakova for a consolation victory in the doubles.
The Czechs, who have won the title five times in the last six years, will travel to USA in the semi-finals after Kathy Rinaldi’s team beat Germany 4-0 on the Hawaiian island of Maui to reach a first Fed Cup semi-final since 2010.
Coco Vandeweghe came from a set and a break down, winning the final 10 games to beat Andrea Petkovic 3-6 6-4 6-0 to seal the victory for the hosts.
“In tennis it can change so quickly,” said Petkovic. “And then she was serving so well in the third set. I never found my rhythm and it was difficult for me to grind my way back into the third set.”
“Honestly, it’s been a really tough week for us,” added Petkovic after Julia Goerges was forced to retire from the second singles rubber before Laura Siegemund retired in the dead doubles rubber to add gloss to the scoreline for USA. “We’ve had a little bad luck with injury. It’s not easy knowing that we’re really two girls standing. But that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
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