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Aussies lose BJK Cup final to Swiss

Australia’s long wait to become women’s tennis world champions goes on after they lost the Billie Jean King Cup final 2-0 to Switzerland in Glasgow.

November 14, 2022
By Ian Chadband
14 November 2022

Storm Sanders has finally run out of wonders as Australia’s tennis women succumbed at the last hurdle in their bid to become world champions in Glasgow.

Seeking to become Billie Jean King Cup champions for the first time in 48 years, and watched by the legendary BJK herself, Alicia Molik’s team were soundly defeated in the final 2-0 by Switzerland in Sunday’s showdown.

In a repeat of last year’s semi-final which the Swiss dominated, the indefatigable Sanders was hailed a hero after battling against injuries and evident weariness before losing 6-3 4-6 6-3 to fellow left-hander Jil Teichmann at the Emirates Arena.

The defeat left Australian No.1 Ajla Tomljanovic with too steep a mountain to scale. She found Swiss counterpart Belinda Bencic, the world No.12, a class above in a 6-2 6-1 defeat.

It earned the Swiss their first-ever victory in the team competition previously known as the Federation Cup and Fed Cup, but for Australia the frustrating wait goes on after they lost their 10th final since Evonne Goolagong led them to a triumph over the US in Naples in 1974.

“We want to get back and go one better,” said a defiant captain Molik, explaining how proud she was of the team. 

“We’ve had two finals in four years and you have to keep chipping away, you can’t be despondent.” 

The tie never came down to a deciding doubles match, leaving 38-year-old Sam Stosur without the chance to crown her stellar career with the prize she has so long coveted after 19 years in the competition.

In their second defeat in a final in four editions, this one at least did not have quite the agonising feel of 2019’s Perth showdown against the French which went down to the wire.

Sanders, the Queenslander from Rod Laver’s hometown, has been the Rockhampton revelation this week, defying her deceptive singles ranking of 237 with a series of aggressive, resilient performances.

But seeking a sixth victory out of seven in Glasgow, she was left struggling with two leg injuries and needed courtside treatment during her defeat.

Even so, Teichmann, the world No.35, found Sanders a completely different player to the one she smashed 6-0 6-3 in last year’s semi.

But Sanders’ physical state after more than 11 hours of going for broke on court this week eventually told as she finally had to give way to the dogged Teichmann after a compelling two hour, 27 minute duel.

At 2-1 and a break down in the second set as Teichmann was dominating affairs, Sanders – already with her right adductor heavily taped after suffering injury problems on Saturday – needed treatment on an injured ankle at the changeover.

She looked practically down and out but somehow dredged up fresh energy to take the second set and drag the contest into a gruelling see-saw decider.

“It was heroic. An example was the crowd when Storm went up to collect her medal; they recognised a great fighter, she left everything out there,” Molik said.

In the final set, a double fault from the increasingly fatigued-looking Sanders gifted Teichmann the key break for 3-2 after a titanic game lasting more than 11 minutes.

Australia’s hopes in the best-of-three contest then rested with No.1 Tomljanovic, but just like last year, she was completely outplayed by Olympic champion Bencic, who produced a clinical display of hitting to break her six times.

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