Switzerland attained its longtime objective of winning the Billie Jean King Cup when it swept aside Australia, 2-0, in the final of the women’s world team championships at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena on Sunday.
It was a great battle. Storm is playing very good the whole week. I was expecting a big fight. So here I was, getting the fight, and I am super happy I got the point. Jil Teichmann
The teams had clashed in the semi-finals of last year’s event in Prague, where Jil Teichmann overcame Storm Sanders and Belinda Bencic defeated Tomljanovic before Switzerland went on to finish runners-up to Russia.
“We didn’t win this just today, it was this week, and it was actually over years,” Swiss team captain Heinz Guenthardt said. “Who knows why you win something and you lose something?
“A lot of it has to do with heart. And this team has a lot of heart, I tell you.”
Bencic, who produced near perfect form all week, said last year’s loss in the final had served as extra motivation this time around.
“What happened last year gave us extra motivation,” a beaming Bencic said in an on-court interview. “We were so heartbroken, I don’t think I have ever cried so much.
“But in the locker room Jil [Teichmann] came to me and said: ‘Next year, we’re going to do it, we’re going to take it.’ And we did, I’m so incredibly proud!
“We will remember Glasgow for the rest of our lives!”
It was a disappointing loss for Australia, who had a chance to end their 48-year wait for an 8th BJK Cup title, having come agonisingly close to victory against France in Perth in 2019.
Australia had replaced Russian in this year’s competition after the country was banned from defending its Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup titles following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.
Since their last title win in 1974, the Aussies have reached the final on 9 further occasions, but lost every time, and Alicia Molik’s team was desperate to break that record this year.
“It’s been phenomenal,” Molik said after their 2-0 loss to Switzerland. “I’m incredibly proud of this whole team, including the extension of the staff.”
Earlier in the week, Australia had scored impressive wins over Slovakia, Belgium and Great Britain to progress to just their 3rd final in the past 30 years.
“I’m fortunate that I have a group of five mates,” Molik added. “They bring out the best in each other.
“They are a dream in the sense of they are genuine, caring, loving, supportive friends to each other.
“And what I’m mostly proud of is the level of respect that each player has for not just each other, but in particular, all the staff members of the team.”
Teichmann and Bencic each won their respective singles matches to lead Switzerland to a 2-0 win, rendering the doubles rubber unnecessary on Sunday, and marking their nation’s first title in 3 finals appearances, which included last year when they fell to the Russian Tennis Federation in Prague.
Alongside Teichmann and Bencic, Viktorija Golubic and Simona Waltert made up the winning squad.
“It’s extremely sweet,” Guenthardt added. “Maybe it’s even sweeter after last year. You obviously can’t compare. We have been working for this a long time. Not just this week.”
Teichmann kicked things off with a 6-3 4-6 6-3 triumph over Storm Sanders, outlasting the Aussie in a thrilling 2 hour 18 minute battle that could well have swung either way.
Sanders has been a stand-out player this week, winning all 3 of her previous singles matches and 2 of the 3 doubles matches this week.
In last year’s BJK Cup semi-final, Teichmann had dismissed her fellow left-hander, 6-0 6-3, but Sanders, now a Top 10 player in doubles who is ranked 237 in singles, came into their rematch a transformed player.
Sanders extended her form into Sunday’s clash, where her sublime volleys and fighting spirit brought her back from a set and a break down to push the contest into a decider.
In a brilliant battle between the two left-handers, Teichmann had dominated the first set but Sanders, struggling with a leg injury and needing court-side treatment, twice rallied from a break down in the second in a stirring revival.
Teichmann earned a break in a 11-minute 5th game to take a 3-2 lead in the third set, and then held serve with an ace in the 8th to take a 5-3 lead before closing out the match with a break, thanks to a forehand down the line as Sanders finally ran out of gas.
“It was a great battle,” Teichmann said afterwards. “Storm is playing very good the whole week.
“I was expecting a big fight. So here I was, getting the fight, and I am super happy I got the point.”
The Swiss No 2 held an 8-0 advantage in aces and won 6 of 9 break points, although Sanders managed more winners, posting 31 to Teichmann’s 22.
Bencic, the Swiss No 1 and Olympic champion, had a much easier time dispatching Ajla Tomljanovich, cruising to a 6-2 6-1 victory to clinch the crown by winning 24 of 32 of her first-service points, which is 69.6 percent, and finishing with 13 unforced errors, while the Australian racked up 23 miscues.
The World No 12 had not dropped a set all week, and she never looked truly threatened, producing a near-flawless performance and converting 6 of her 12 break points, despite spending more than 2 hours cheering on her teammate, Teichmann, in the earlier match.
“I gave so much energy in Jil’s match, ’cause I was trying to push her so much,” Bencic admitted. “Storm was playing incredible, she was throwing everything at Jil.
“And she stayed so strong, every point she didn’t go away. And she, like, refused to lose and fought with everything she had, and I was so proud and so inspired in a way.
“And I, kind of, tried to do the same thing. I don’t think we got it yet, that we’re the first ones [from Switzerland] to win [the trophy].”
Bencic converted her 5th break point in a 10-minute 7th game to take a 5-2 lead, and closed out the opening set with a volley winner.
She then earned an early break in the 3rd game of the second to take a 2-1 lead, and held serve in her next service games to win after an hour and 15 minutes.
Switzerland, who had never won the competition, formerly known as the Federation Cup and the Fed Cup, losing the final in 1998 and again last year, won 9 of their 10 matches this week to become the 12th nation to lift the coveted trophy.
“We tried to get better and better,” Guenthardt said. “You saw how many close points there were.”
Meanwhile, the draw for next year’s Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers took place on Sunday, which will be held 14-15 April, 2023.
This weekend, 16 countries faced off in home-and-away ties, with the 8 winners of those ties moving into the 2023 Qualifiers draw, along with the 10 nations that finished between 3rd and 12th place in Glasgow this week.
The 9 winners from the match-ups below will join this year’s finalists Switzerland and Australia and the host nation (or if already qualified, a wild card) in next year’s Billie Jean King Cup Finals.