Prague (AFP) – Switzerland won the crucial duel to secure the last available ticket to the Billie Jean King Cup semi-finals, defeating the Czech Republic on Thursday.
Olympic singles champion Belinda Bencic teamed up with Jill Tishman to defeat Lucy Hradika and Karolina Siniakova 6-3, 6-3, gold medalists in Tokyo.
“The key is to take risks, because they have a very great team,” Bencic said.
The win gave Switzerland first place in Group D, after also beating Germany. Now, the Swiss will face Australia, who earlier took the lead on the hard court at the O2 Arena in Prague.
The Australians sealed their pass after sweeping their singles match against Belarus on Thursday.
Australia, which reached the final of the last edition of the tournament formerly known as the Fed Cup, needed a win to move past Group B.
Agla Tomljanovic surged to defeat Aleksandra Sasnovic 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, giving Australia an indomitable 2-0 lead. Storm Sanders defeated Yulia Hatoka 6-3, 6-3 in the first match.
“Achieving a winning point makes me very happy,” Tomljanovic.
Sanders, ranked 131st on the WTA rankings, scored her second win of the tournament. He was also pleased to beat Elise Mertens, Belgium’s first racketeer at 18th in the standings, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-0 in her debut with Australia.
The 12 teams in the finals are divided into four groups of three, in a new tournament format. The group winners advanced to the semi-finals on Friday.
The United States will meet Russia in the other semi-final match.
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