Czechs, Aussie conquerors Slovenia into BJK Cup semis


The Czech Republic have won their heavyweight clash against the United States with a deciding doubles victory to send them through to the Billie Jean King Cup semi-finals in Seville.

The winner-takes-all Group A duel between the two most successful sides in the competition's history was locked at 1-1 after the singles before the Czech pair of Katerina Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova took the European team through.

The seven-time grand slam doubles champions had a little too much craft for Danielle Collins and Taylor Townsend, winning 6-3 7-5.

"The US were there, just waiting for the winning moment," said Czech captain Petr Pala. "It got to the wire and it could have gone either way, but we have a world-class doubles team."

Krejcikova, the 2021 French Open champion, has also paired with Siniakova to win seven major doubles titles including this year's Australian Open. Their champion pedigree showed in a dominant performance that included converting six of eight break points.

"I was very happy when we sealed the winning point today," Siniakova said, before talking about her continued success with Krejcikova.

"Everyone wants to beat us, and they are coming and trying to find things. I wouldn't say our partnership is natural. You just need to work hard and we both like practising and trying to improve ourselves, which is a big part."

Siniakova had started the day by losing to Collins, who won their opening singles match 6-3 6-2 to give the US a 1-0 lead.

Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova pulled the Czechs level at 1-1 after she brushed aside Sofia Kenin 6-1 6-1.

It was the final appearance for US captain Kathy Rinaldi, who will be replaced by Lindsay Davenport after having led the team for seven years, the fourth longest stint in team history.

The US has the most titles with 18 and the Czechs the second most with 11, but the Czechs have now won their last three meetings with the Americans.

The Czechs will join Slovenia, who reached the semis for the first time hot on the heels of their victory over Australia in the group stages.

Despite their top player Tamara Zidansek having to retire hurt during their second singles rubber against Kazakhstan in their Group B clash on Friday, the Slovenians had already done enough to ensure they will play Group D winners Italy in the last four.

The lowest-ranked of the 12 nations to qualify, Slovenia beat Australia 2-1 in their opening match on Tuesday, setting Alicia Molik's team on the path to early elimination, even though the Aussies did manage to beat Kazakhstan by the same score on Thursday.

But Andrej Krasevec's Slovenian team quickly took the initiative in their decisive group tie against the Kazakhs when Kaja Juvan thrashed Anna Danilina 6-1 6-0.

Zidansek then took on Yulia Putintseva, knowing one set would be enough to ensure their progress to the weekend.

Zidansek duly took the opening set 6-2 before Putintseva hit back to level the match, at which point Zidansek retired in the knowledge her country had done enough to qualify.

Canada, who wrapped up their semi-final place with a second successive 3-0 victory on Thursday, now lie in wait for the Czechs.

with AP