The Billie Jean King Cup qualifiers for the world's elite group is over. 9 ties being played in various destinations in Europe and America determined the winners who will play in November's finals. The venue of final tournament will be announced later during the year. The match-ups played during the weekend brought some thrilling battles ended up in decisive doubles, exciting three-sets singles matches with many plot twists, and some expected comfortable wins for the favorites as well. Friday's highlights were recaped here, while this article describes the course of every tie in a nutshell.
Slovenia vs Romania 3:2
The only one tie which was three days long, because of the rain which tormented decisive doubles match, and the only one tie where the winning team came back from being 0-2 down after Friday. It was an absolute thriller, where the Romanian team has definitely something to regret, as it could not be closer to make the job done after just three matches. Ana Bogdan was a slight favorite against hosts representative Tamara Zidansek, who is ranked 44 places lower in WTA rankings. Bogdan won opening set 6-3 and was in a driver's seat to cross the finish line for her team, while being a break up in second set for three times. The lead of Romanian team had two chances to serve for the match, being *5-4 and *6-5 up, but did not produce even one single matchpoint within own serve. The further chances appeared in following set, as Bogdan was leading 5-2 with a single break advantage, but failed to serve for the match again, as Zidansek leveled the score in 9th game and won all the following ones to grab this match with a score 3-6 7-6(4) 7-5 after 3:07 hours long battle. Kaja Juvan capitalized on the effort of her teammate, defeating Jaqueline Adina Cristian easily 6-2 6-4. Everything was set for the deciding doubles match - Juvan and Zidansek vs Monica Niculescu and Irina Maria Bara. It was tough to expect the score there and both the teams needed to wait for it, as the match was suspended due to rain after 6 games, with a score 3-3. Match with such a big stake was resumed on Sunday. The Romanians won first set 6-4, but hosts fought back, leveling the score by winning second set 6-2 and sealed a stunning comeback win in deciding set with a score 4-6 6-2 6-4.
Slovakia vs Italy 2:3
Italy set up a comfortable 2-0 win after Friday's matches, as their both best singles racquets Martina Trevisan and Camila Giorgi scored straight set wins over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova and Viktoria Hruncakova. As reported by Italian team captain, both Trevisan and Giorgi were not feeling well before Saturday's matches. Giorgi felt the pain in her knee during Saturday's warm-up, while Trevisan was supposed to be preserved before the possible doubles appearance. They got exchanged for Jasmine Paolini and Elisabetta Cocciaretto, which allowed the home team to regain the hope, as Schmiedlova defeated Paolini 6-1 4-6 6-4 and Hruncakova moved the settlement into doubles match after winning over Cocciaretto 6-3 7-6(2). The doubles match had a big stake to play for and was a thriller indeed, as both teams played very intense battle, which has finally ended up on favour for the Italians. Trevisan and Cocciaretto won 6-4 4-6 7-5 over Hruncakova and Tereza Mihalikova, securing their play-offs spot in more thrilling manner than expected after Friday's matches.
Canada vs Belgium 3:2
It was one of the most interesting match-ups, with great three-sets battles in singles matches and plot twists. Canadian team was a slight favorite before the hard-court tie placed in Vancouver, but Belgium showed that it will not be an easy task, especially after good effort of Ysaline Bonaventure who denied the hosts from being 2-0 up, while fighting back from being a set down during her match against Rebecca Marino. Bonaventure was really close to drive her team into a sensational lead after 3 matches, as she was 6-4 3-2 up with a break advantage in second set in Saturday's match against Leylah Fernandez. The top Canadian racquet in this tie took the responsibility well tough, and made up all the gap, coming back in second set and winning it 7-5, and dominating the deciding one with a score 6-2. It was not the end of the battle, as both teams captains changed the nominations for 4th singles match, which was played between Katherine Sebov and Greet Minnen. The 171th player from WTA list made an upset on hosts representative in another exciting three-setter. Minnen won 6-2 3-6 6-3 moving the tie's settlement into decisive doubles match. Despite the decent Belgium's line-up containing Minnen and Kirsten Flipkens, the hosts were favorites there with a great doubles specialist Gabriela Dabrowski supported by Leylah Fernandez. The Canadians did not disappoint, crushing their guests in deciding match with a score 6-1 6-2.
Germany vs Brazil 3:1
Brasil could be considered as favorites before this tie, due to having a strong weapon in person of Beatriz Haddad Maia, the determined leader of guests team. The Germans was surely not to write off, having decent players in the squad and playing on the home soil in Stuttgart. Friday's matches ended up with a draw after intense three-sets battles, where Haddad Maia defeated Anna Lena Friedsam and Tatjana Maria leveled the score after winning with Laura Pigossi, 7-5 in the deciding set. Saturday's action started with a match between Haddad Maia and Jule Niemeier, who got nominated instead of Tatjana Maria. The German made an upset on favorized opponent, scoring a win which was crucial for the fates of whole tie. Niemeier defeated the world's number 14 with a score 7-6(3) 3-6 6-2, which tipped the scales on favour of hosts before the match of Anna Lena Friedsam and Laura Pigossi. Friedsam gave absolutely no chance for the opponent, winning 6-1 6-0 and securing the qualification for hosts. The doubles match was cancelled after all.
USA vs Austria 4:0
As expected, the US team had absolutely no issues with defeating Austria, nominating their two best singles racquets, who are the consistent members of world's top 10 in WTA rankings. Jessica Pegula and Cori Gauff practically ensured the qualification on Friday, by winning their matches against Julia Grabher and Sinja Kraus in straight sets. Third match was a formality there, as Pegula beat Grabher 6-1 6-3. Gauff and Caty Mcnally made also a confident 6-1 6-4 win in doubles, which was more like exhibition, and whole the tie looked like the fans festive during a beautiful sunny day in Delray Beach.
Kazakhstan vs Poland 3:1
Polish team was very weakened before the trip to Astana, where they wanted to take up the fight against Kazakhstan, who had their strongest singles players all ready to play for the qualification on their home soil. Magda Linette was the only hope to give any fighting chance there. The world's number 19 is always super reliable in the national team matches, but she came up short to Yulia Putintseva in first clash of this tie, which occured to be the key for easy win of Kazakhstan in general. Putintseva won 7-5 6-3. Elena Rybakina was a banker favorite against Weronika Falkowska, but the player ranked 253th in WTA list showed up really good and fought well against the Grand Slam champion, being able to stay in contention during both sets. Rybakina still won 6-3 6-4 and sealed the victory a day after by winning against Linette easily 6-4 6-2. Poland scored their consolation point in doubles, where Falkowska and Alicja Rosolska defeated Putintseva and Anna Danilina.
Great Britain vs France 1:3
The home team can really hold the head up high despite being already defeated after 3rd singles match. Both Katie Boulter and Harriet Dart gave it all during their long and super exciting battles against much higher rated Caroline Garcia and Alize Cornet. Garcia scored the one pending point on Saturday, defeating Dart 6-1 6-7(10) 6-1. Despite the outcome of Friday's matches, Dart did not give up against the world's 5 and fought well in second set, winning it after intense battle ended up in a long tiebreak. Garcia did her job in third set, winning confidently. The doubles match was no less fun, as Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls won against Clara Burel and Kristina Mladenovic 7-5 3-6 11-9 after interesting and even battle.
Ukraine vs Czech Republic 1:3
The favorized Czech team got in a good position after Friday's matches, where Marketa Vondrousova and Barbora Krejcikova scored confident straight-sets wins over Marta Kostyuk and Katarina Zavatska. Krejcikova had a chance to close the tie on Saturday, playing against Kostyuk. The leader of Czech team has expectedly won the opening set, but Kostyuk surprisingly fought back, winning second set 6-1 and 6-4 in the decider. It prolonged the play for qualification till another singles match between Marketa Vondrousova and Katarina Zavatska. Vondrousova did not disappoint as an obvious favorite and routined the Ukrainian 6-3 6-4. The doubles match was decided not to be played.
Spain vs Mexico 3:1
Spanish team did not call up their singles top star Paula Badosa and not even engaged their second best racquet Cristina Bucsa, but Nuria Parrizas Diaz and Sara Sorribes Tormo did a great job, giving absolutely no chance for the guests and secured the qualification in a dominant style. Sorribes Tormo opened the tie perfectly for Spain, defeating Fernanda Contreras 6-0 6-0. Parrizas Diaz extended the lead with 6-4 6-3 win over Renata Zarazua. The world's number 80 added another point to Spanish tally on Saturday, winning over Marcela Zacarias 6-3 6-0. Despite not having any arguments in singles battle, the Mexican team had a strong doubles specialist in their squad, which gave them a consolation point at the end. Giuliana Olmos supported by Zarazua defeated Aliona Bolsova and Rebeka Masarova 4-6 7-6(5) 10-7.