Australia are the first country to reach the semi-finals of the Billie Jean King Cup after beating Belgium in a spectacular performance in Scotland.
Storm Sanders paved the way for an upset victory for Australia by beating world number 54 Alisson van Uytbank of Belgium 6-2 6-2 before Ajla Tomljanovic took the win.
Australia will take part in the Group B final match on Thursday night, knowing they have enough potential to move forward even if they lose 1-2 to Belgium, who suffered a shock defeat to Slovakia. Did.
Even after Sanders’ win over Van Uytbank, Alicia Molik’s team still needed at least one set to advance in the top-ranked singles or doubles.
The tie looked set to decide the doubles rubber when Belgian trump Elise Mertens, who had just won the WTA Finals doubles title, stole a set and led Tomljanovic with a double break.
But Tomljanovic came back five games in a row to win the second set and secure Australia’s place in the semi-finals.
The belief she gained from reaching the quarterfinals at Wimbledon and the US Open in the best years of her career definitely helped her through those tough times.
Mertens’ serve failed her, and she ended up with 10 double faults. A medical time-out was taken to
The Belgian star retired after dropping serve in a 4-6 6-4 2-0 draw in the second game of the final set.
“It’s bittersweet whenever someone has to retire, but I think even after winning that (second) set, we won it, so it feels good.
“I fought to the end. I had my back against the wall (and) prepared to cheer loudly in doubles, but that’s tennis and it’s never over until it’s over.
“We have the best cheer squad…and you feel that good energy, so definitely I crossed the line.”
Australia last won the Billie Jean King Cup title in 1974, but reached the semi-finals last year and the final in Perth in 2019.
A strong Spanish line-up, led by Paula Vadosa, looms large as semi-final opponents, with Australia negotiating with Great Britain in their Group C second match.
With Australia losing retired world No. 1 Ash Barty and an injured Dahlia Saville, Molik ignored the rankings and placed Sanders second in singles for the week behind Tomljanovic.
The Western Australian native, who was previously ranked 119th and then ranked 237th, has won both singles matches, which is a major reason for her country’s success so far.
She’s getting married this month at the end of her best season on the court.
It’s the second year in a row that Saunders has done his best for Belgium in a team competition.
She surprised Mertens with three sets a year ago as interim No. 1 player.
“In a way, I feel like I’ve always believed that I could perform at this level, week after week, not just in my country, but at every WTA event,” Sanders said.
“But obviously it’s a whole other level to represent your country…I love playing for Australia. For me, it’s the greatest honor.
“What I want most in my tennis career is to win the Billie Jean King Cup in my country.”
Molik teamed up with veteran Sam Stosur in doubles for Saunders and replaced top 20 doubles player Ellen Perez after losing rubber against Slovakia.
https://www.theaustralian.com.au/breaking-news/tennis-storm-sanders-ajla-tomljanovic-lead-way-again-as-australia-qualifies-for-billie-jean-king-cup-semifinals/news-story/f0c2fc489db3f6d4d50c7702ed27c315 Australia beat Belgium in Billie Jean King Cup semi-final