02/08/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/08/2020 12:43
Serbia and Poland advanced to the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas play-offs after thrilling wins over their respective rivals at the Europe/Africa Group I tournament in Luxembourg on Saturday.
Serbia edged out Slovenia 2-1 after winning the decisive doubles while Poland beat Sweden 2-0 as Iga Swiatek overpowered Mirjam Bjorklund 7-5 4-6 6-3 and Magda Linette defeated Johanna Larsson 7-5 6-4 in the singles.
Later on Saturday, hosts Luxembourg face Turkey in the battle to avoid relegation.
Slovenia gained the upper hand over Serbia as Kaja Juvan blew away Olga Danilovic 6-2 6-2 after the Serbian broke serve in the contest's opening game with a delightful backhand winner.
But that was as good as it got for the 19-year old from Belgrade, who hit only five of her opening 15 first serves and Juvan took advantage ruthlessly to win the next four games.
The Slovenian never looked back and wrapped up the match in 59 minutes before Nina Stojanovic, beaten in her two singles rubbers against Sweden and Luxembourg, levelled the tie for Serbia with a 6-4 7-5 defeat of Tamara Zidansek after producing her best performance of the tournament.
Stojanovic clinched a tight opening set after breaking serve in the fifth game but showed some nerves when victory seemed within touching distance.
The Serbian broke her rival's serve twice in the second set to carve out a 4-1 lead but the battling Zidansek broke back twice in quick succession and hauled herself level at 5-5, only to drop serve again in the next game.
Stojanovic took her second match point on a long Zidansek forehand before she teamed up with Aleksandra Krunic for the doubles, while Slovenia's team captain Andrej Krasevec threw in Juvan instead of Dalila Jakupovic to join forces with Zidansek.
Buoyed by her singles victory against Zidansek, Stojanovic produced another flawless performance and Krunic was also on par as Serbia claimed two knife-edged sets to win 6-4 7-5.
Team captain Tatjana Jecmenica was delighted after the Serbians ground out three dramatic wins in Luxembourg, with the doubles making the difference each time.
'Like I said on Friday, I had full confidence in Nina despite her two singles defeats in the opening two days. She played an outstanding singles rubber today and was just as impressive in the doubles,' Jecmenica told the ITF.
'We have staged a bit of an upset here because Slovenia are a better-ranked team and they started the day as favourites, but the girls left it all out there on the court and we are overjoyed to have won promotion.'
'Slovenia were the fresher team because they'd had a day's rest but we dug deep for this win.'
Poland thrived on the formidable WTA ranking of their singles players, Iga Swiatek and Magda Linette, to overcome a spirited challenge from Sweden in a pair of enthralling rubbers at centre court.
Word number 48 Swiatek was pushed down to the wire by Mirjam Bjorklund, who matched her rival in every department and missed a gilt-edged chance to win the opening set after spilling a 5-3 lead.
The setback did not deter the 21-year old from Stockholm as she came storming back in the second, when she also received medical treatment for a back problem.
However, Swiatek prevailed in the titanic tussle as she wrapped it up with a crosscourt forehand winner after a big serve, putting Poland in the driving seat.
World number 42 Linette appeared set for a stroll against Johanna Larsson after racing into a 4-0 lead in the opening set, but the Swede roared back to win the next four games in what resembled a heavyweight boxing match.
The players threw everything they had each other, producing fascinating rallies as well as sublime volleys and stinging baseline shots, with Linette clinching the opening set after breaking Larsson's serve in the final game.
The Swede broke serve early in the second set to take a 3-2 lead but Linette found another gear to turn the tide by winning three games in a row and serve for the match.
Larsson, who had slammed her racket into the ground to vent her frustration, refused to roll over and broke again to stay in the match but was forced into submission moments later as Linette took her second match point to send Poland through.
The victory sparked jubilant celebrations on the Polish bench and among the country's vociferous fans, whose colourful choreography in Luxembourg's Esch-sur-Alzette national tennis centre included a 'Polish Team Chase The Dream' banner.
And it was certainly a dream come true for their team captain Dawid Celt.
'We are very happy to have achieved our goal and I want to thank my team for doing a good job,' he told the ITF.
'It was a very tough match today. The rankings didn't matter as the Swedish girls played very good and aggressive tennis. I was surprised with what I saw from Bjorklund today, she was amazing.'
'But we prevailed and that's the most important thing. Our end goal is to win promotion into the top tier and we are going to prepare as best we can for the upcoming challenges.'