Russia triumphs over Switzerland to win Billie Jean King Cup

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Daria Kasatkina and Liudmila Samsonova led Russia to victory in the maiden Billie Jean King Cup after winning their singles matches against Switzerland in Prague on Saturday.

Kasatkina beat Jil Teichmann 6-2, 6-4 and Samsonova overpowered Olympic champion Belinda Bencic 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to bring Russia its fifth title overall in the team competition previously known as the Fed Cup.

“I have too many emotions now, I’m feeling like I’m freezing and it’s unbelievable really. Unbelievably happy,” Samsonova said after celebrating with her team.

“Today was an incredible fight, it was more than tennis,” she added.

Teichmann, the world number 39, demolished Storm Sanders on Friday as Switzerland beat Australia in the semi-final, but the 28th-ranked Kasatkina, who had sat out Russia’s previous two ties, proved a different level.

The Russian went 5-0 up on her precise hitting and three breaks as Teichmann struggled with her serve, and she took the set easily despite a late break by the Swiss player.

Both held on to their serves in the second set until game seven when they traded a break apiece but Kasatkina earned one more and then held on to her serve, taking the set as Teichmann blasted her forehand out of the court.

“Amazing feeling. I’m happy that I bring this very important point to my team,” said Kasatkina.

“I think mentality was the key, I was tough from the beginning till the end of the match and I’m happy with the level.”

‘A real team’

World number 40 Samsonova had a lion’s share in Russia’s semi-final win over the United States as she won her singles game and then helped Russia take the doubles.

Bencic, ranked 17th, had only lost a set in her three singles at the tournament before the final.

Bencic, whose parents were born in former Czechoslovakia, had also previously won over the home crowd by thanking fans in Slovak after each game and by apologising when the Swiss ousted the Czechs in the group phase.

Samsonova, a last-moment replacement for an injured Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for the final, was the first to break but Bencic, cheered by the arena, immediately came back and then broke again in game eight to take the first set.

The fast-serving, big-hitting Russian weathered four break points in the 10-minute first game of the second set and struck five games later before adding another break to level.

On a roll, she did the same early in the third set and despite being impatient on the finish at times, she held on to her serve to take the match in two hours and 22 minutes.

“It’s an historical win for us,” said Russia captain Igor Andreev.

“I’m very proud and very happy for the girls, the way they played, the way they did everything, they’re amazing, they’re heroes and they achieved it because they’re a real team and real friends.”

“Liudmila was playing amazing all week. She can be a top player, dealing with all the pressure, big stage, she performed fantastic tonight so big credit to her,” Andreev added.


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