Sunday was a historic day for Switzerland as they won their first Billie Jean King Cup title, prevailing in the premier women’s team event in professional tennis.
Jil Teichmann and reigning Olympic champion Belinda Bencic combined for singles wins to give the Swiss an insurmountable 2-0 lead over Australia in a rematch of last year’s semifinals, earning the coveted championship in Glasgow, Scotland.
In the opening match of the day, Teichmann outlasted this week’s breakthrough player Storm Sanders 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. Bencic then followed with a swift 6-2, 6-1 win over Ajla Tomljanovic to clinch the trophy.
“We were finalists last year and we were so heartbroken,” Bencic said on court, after wrapping up the week. “But in the locker room [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 proud.”
Switzerland, the runner-up last year as well as in 1998, completed the dream week by going 9-1 in matches in Glasgow. Viktorija Golubic and Simona Waltert also contributed to the team effort in Scotland.
Seven-time champion Australia was seeking their first title since 1974.
In last year’s Billie Jean King Cup semifinal, Teichmann had dismissed fellow left-hander Sanders 6-0, 6-3. However, Sanders, a Top 10 player in doubles but ranked No.237 in singles, came into their rematch at the end of an eye-opening week. In Glasgow, Sanders had won all three of her previous singles matches as well as going 2-1 in doubles.
Sanders’ form extended into Sunday’s clash, where her sublime volleys and fighting spirit brought her back from a set and a break down to push her clash with Teichmann into a decisive third set.
However, Teichmann gritted through an 11-minute game to break for 3-2 in the decider, and she finished off more points aggressively as the set progressed. An ace gave Teichmann a 5-3 lead, and she closed out the challenging match by firing a forehand winner down the line to break for the victory after 2 hours and 18 minutes.
“It was a great battle,” Teichmann said on court afterwards. “Storm is playing very good the whole week, I was expecting a big fight. So here I was, getting the fight, and I’m super happy I got the point.”
Bencic followed with a command performance, taking 1 hour and 15 minutes to dispatch Tomljanovic in a showdown between the respective nations’ top-ranked players. Bencic converted half of her 12 break points en route to victory.
Bencic broke for 5-2 after converting her fifth break point of a 10-minute game, then finished off the first set with a volley winner from her signature wing, the backhand.
In the second set, a forehand return winner gave Bencic an early break for 2-1, and last year’s Olympic gold medalist never looked back as she finished off the week in Glasgow.
“We didn’t win this just today; it was this week, it was actually over years, we tried to get better and better at it,” said team captain Heinz Günthardt. “You saw how many close points there were; who knows why we win some and lose some. A lot of it has to do with heart, and this team has a lot of heart.”
Meanwhile, the draw for next year’s Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers took place on Sunday. They will be held April 14-15, 2023.
This weekend, 16 countries faced off in home-and-away ties, with the eight winners of those ties moving into the 2023 Qualifiers draw, along with the 10 nations that finished between third and 12th place in Glasgow this week.
The nine winners from the matchups 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: