Prague (AP) – Daria Kasatkina gave Russia a 1-0 lead over Switzerland with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Jill Teichmann in the final of the Billie Jean King Cup on Saturday.
Russia is just one win away from its fifth title in the competition previously known as the Fed Cup. Switzerland is yet to win the trophy.
Russia’s Lyudmila Samsonova will take on Tokyo Olympic singles champion Belinda Bencic in the second singles match before the doubles.
In an impressive performance, Kasatkina blew a forehand winner to earn a break point in the seventh game of the second set, which she converted for a 4-3 lead. She did not stop her serve in the following game, but got another break for 5–4 before being dismissed on her first match point.
The Russian stormed the opening set, broke Tekman three times and dropped his serve once.
“I think the start was very important, we were both nervous but I managed the nerves a little bit better,” said Kasatkina.
It was the second win for Russia in the tournament after beating Canada’s Carol Zhao in the group stage to improve their record in the competition to 5–1, while Teachman recorded his first loss after three wins.
“A wonderful feeling,” said Kasatkina. “I won the first match (in the group stage), now I play in the final and I am happy that I have brought this very important point for my team.”
Russia reached its first final since 2015 in competitions won in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008.
The Swiss reached their first final since being runners-up in 1998, their only final appearance.
In the final the 12 teams were divided into four groups of three teams. Only the group winners advanced to Friday’s semi-finals.
Russia dominated Group A in the tournament after victories over defending champions France and Canada before eliminating the United States in the semi-finals.
The US is the most successful country in the competition with 18 trophies.
Switzerland advanced to the semi-finals from Group D, considered the toughest in the tournament, beating both the Czech Republic and Germany along the way.
In the semi-finals, the Swiss won both singles matches after beating Australia 2–0.
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