Day 2 of the Billie Jean King Cup Finals saw Slovakia bounce back from an opening loss to defeat Belgium 2-1 in Group B, while Switzerland opened their account with a 3-0 clean sweep over Italy in Group A.
Neither Anna Karolina Schmiedlova nor Viktoria Kuzmova had won a set in their singles rubbers against Australia on Day 1, but both pulled off valiant victories to put their country back on track. In the first match of the day, Kuzmova saved triple set point serving at 5-6 in the second set before beating Ysaline Bonaventure 6-2, 7-6(7).
Schmiedlova then emerged on top of a 2-hour, 36-minute thriller over Maryna Zanevska 5-7, 6-2, 6-3, coming from an early break down in the third set. Momentum swung wildly over the course of the match, particularly in the opening set: Schmiedlova led 5-2, but squandered a set point with a loose forehand error.
As that wing continued to let her down, the World No.100's lead disintegrated. Zanevska, who had won her first WTA 125 title in Rouen three weeks ago, reeled off five straight games, sealing the set with a dead net cord.
In that context, the authoritative manner in which Schmiedlova raised her level for the rest of the match was all the more impressive. Having landed just 50% of her first deliveries in the first set, winning 55% of those points, she found a real groove on serve in the second and third sets to claim 75% of her first serve points.
Schmiedlova's footspeed and backhand also shone. A pair of superb passing shots enabled her to break Zanevska back for 1-1 in the third set, before she came out on top of a backhand duel to move up 3-1. Having learned her lesson from the first set, Schmiedlova held her lead to close out both the second and third with a minimum of fuss. The final game saw her exact some revenge for the first set, as a dead net cord of her own staved off a break-back point.
"Definitely was a really difficult match, especially for my head," said Schmiedlova afterwards. "I was really nervous, and I'm extremely happy that I won today because it's the first time I've won a match at the Billie Jean King Cup. It's probably one of the most important wins of my career."
The Belgian team managed to get on the board in the doubles rubber as Kirsten Flipkens and Elise Mertens needed just 52 minutes to defeat Kuzmova and Tereza Mihalikova 6-0, 6-3. Mertens, the Belgian No.1 in singles, had only arrived in Glasgow the previous night after winning the WTA Finals Fort Worth doubles title alongside Veronika Kudermetova.
Group A will conclude on Day 3 as Belgium take on Australia, with all three teams still potentially able to win the group and advance to the semifinals.
Jil Teichmann and Belinda Bencic both delivered performances of real quality to pave the way for the first 3-0 sweep of the Finals for Switzerland. Teichmann emerged on top of an enthralling 3-hour, 7-minute tussle over Elisabetta Cocciaretto 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(5) -- another match full of turning points and unpredictable swings.
Teichmann's all-court game had been in full flow as she took a 6-3, 4-2 lead, but Cocciaretto raised her aggression levels to storm back to take six games in a row. Fresh off the Tampico WTA 125 title two weeks ago, Cocciaretto sealed the second set with a spectacular running forehand pass, then carried her form to take an iron grip of the decider.
A heavy forehand brought up a match point for Cocciaretto at 5-2, but Teichmann fended it off with a service winner before capturing four straight games herself. Like Cocciaretto, Teichmann was unable to serve out the win at 6-5, but she regrouped to seal her third match point in the ensuing tiebreak as a Cocciaretto forehand went long.
"It was a very very intense match, a very good fight," said Teichmann afterwards. "It was just about the fight, the resilience."
Swiss No.1 Bencic wrapped up her country's win with an efficient 7-5, 6-3 win over Jasmine Paolini, before joining forces with Teichmann to defeat Paolini and Martina Trevisan 7-6(5), 6-1.
Bencic also showed off her sharp eyes: in the final game of her singles rubber, the World No.12 overturned two straight points with correct Hawkeye challenges to reach triple match point, before a third consecutive electronic overrule went her way to get the first of them replayed. Bencic did not win the replayed point, but sealed victory on her second match point as a Paolini forehand went wide/
Italy will seek to bounce back on Day 3 when they take on Canada in the second Group A tie.
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