Sunday, November 13, 2022

By Eleanor Crooks, PA Tennis Correspondent

Switzerland proved there is life after Roger Federer as their women defeated Australia in Glasgow to win the Billie Jean King Cup for the first time.

Two months after Federer’s tearful farewell to tennis at the Laver Cup in London, Belinda Bencic and Jil Teichmann claimed singles victories at the Emirates Arena to break new ground for their country.

Switzerland had twice reached the final before, in Martina Hingis’ pomp in 1998 and last year, when they finished as runners-up to the now banned Russian Tennis Federation.

But they have been unstoppable in Glasgow, not losing a live rubber despite a difficult draw, and Australia were powerless to prevent yet another final defeat – they have lost 10 in a row dating back to their last of seven titles back in 1974.

This was a rematch of last year’s semi-final, where Australia won only eight games, and they at least made it more competitive this time in front of a sizeable and enthusiastic crowd that included King, who came on to the court before the tie and high-fived all the players.

Storm Sanders again played well above her singles ranking of 237 but lost out to Teichmann in a 6-3 4-6 6-3 tussle lasting two hours and 18 minutes.

Sanders had been unbeaten in singles this week and led Australia to victory over Great Britain in the semi-finals on Saturday, seeing off Heather Watson before teaming up with Sam Stosur for the narrowest of wins against Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls in the deciding doubles.

Jil Teichmann (right) celebrates her win with team-mates
Jil Teichmann (right) celebrates her win with team-mates (Steve Welsh/PA)

She is ranked more than 200 places below fellow left-hander Teichmann but refused to let her opponent pull away, despite further treatment to her right leg, fighting back from a set and a break down before running out of steam in the decider.

Twelfth-ranked Bencic, meanwhile, has once again produced her best form in the red and white of her home country, having won singles gold and doubles silver at the Tokyo Olympics last summer.

The 25-year-old went into her clash against Ajla Tomljanovic, who lost to Harriet Dart on Saturday, with a perfect record and was far too strong for her opponent in a 6-2 6-1 victory.

Switzerland are the 12th different country to win the tournament formerly known as Fed Cup and the first new champions since Italy in 2006.

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