Results

Fed Cup

10/28/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/28/2021 09:48

Bencic sets sights on firing Switzerland to maiden Billie Jean King Cup title

During a conversation last month, Olympic champion Belinda Bencic revealed she was yet to find a suitable place to house the gold and silver medals which capped a memorable summer at Tokyo 2020. That problem, if it can be referred to as such, has since been resolved.

"I found a nice place," Bencic told billiejeankingcup.com. "I have framed the medals and put a t-shirt from the Olympic Games and some photos inside.

"It is something very nice to have within our house and my boyfriend and I love to look at it when we walk past. It is a really nice memory and looking at the gold medal is just so special. Those goosebumps are definitely still there."

While her Olympic success was career-defining, the 24-year-old has no intention of taking her foot off the gas and has designs on firing Switzerland to the summit of another podium, this time at the Billie Jean King Cup by BNP Paribas Finals.

Should that eventuality play out once play gets underway on Monday, Bencic would become just the second player to become Olympic singles champion and a Billie Jean King Cup winner in the same year after Lindsay Davenport in 1996.

With Switzerland never previously triumphing in the tournament, there would be no better time for a maiden success with this being the inaugural instalment of the Finals following the evolution of the competition from Fed Cup.

It would also prove a fitting end to an already unforgettable year for Bencic, while landing in Prague prior to representing her nation in a team event has stirred memories of that golden fortnight in Tokyo.

"This is a very important event at the end of the year," said Bencic. "Sometimes you finish the year with some smaller tournaments, but this is a real highlight and I definitely want to make it a very strong end to the season.

"We have waited a long time for the Billie Jean King Cup Finals and I am super-excited. I am very happy with the new format, it sounds very interesting and it is really a big deal. It is always very exciting when something new or rare comes around.

"And for sure, coming here to compete on behalf of Switzerland takes me back to the summer, especially now I have all these memories with Viktorija Golubic [who she won Olympic silver alongside in the women's doubles].

"I feel so blessed to have shared everything with her and definitely both of us will remember this forever. We can also both bring this great energy from Tokyo to the Billie Jean King Cup team.

"But it has always been the case with Switzerland that there is very good energy in Billie Jean King Cup. If something happens, everyone is excited. It is a good feeling that we all have a great connection, even outside of the event. It's not like we have to create it, it is there."

Billie Jean King Cup is clearly a competition which Bencic is extremely fond of and one which has played a significant role in her development. Indeed, she made her tournament debut way back in 2012 against Australia in Fribourg at the age of just 14.

She also credits those early ties with exposing her to the dynamics of team sport, an investment which returned a pretty hefty dividend in Tokyo when Bencic was front and centre of Switzerland's most successful Olympic showing since 1952.

"I have to say that I really love team competitions and just generally playing for my country," added Bencic.

"Somehow it always brings out the best in me and has done since those very first Billie Jean King Cup ties. Even then it was just a different and very special atmosphere which really grew on me.

"There is definitely a different feeling on court. That is why when I get the chance to represent my country and when I am called to play, I am the first to put my hand up.

"It has really shown in my performances also. For some players, maybe it is difficult or just too much pressure but, for me, it has been good and any chance I get to play a team event, I am up for it.

"At the Olympics, there were a couple of things. I am used to the team environment having played Billie Jean King Cup since I was 14 so I knew what to expect and was looking forward to it. But I was also excited by something not standard in the life of a tennis player."

Team competition and relishing something new and different - interesting. Given that encapsulates Billie Jean King Cup, the remainder of the field better beware, even if Switzerland - represented here by Bencic, Jil Teichmann, Golubic and Stefanie Voegele - face a stern challenge having been drawn in Group D alongside hosts Czech Republic and Germany.

With the winners of the four groups progressing to the semi-finals, there is little margin for error, something Bencic is acutely aware of as the Swiss prepare for their opening clash against Germany on Tuesday.

"It is a tough group, that is for sure, but nothing is impossible, especially with this format," said Bencic. "We have a good doubles team - we showed that in the Olympics - and we have great singles players.

"The four of us are all very good and our level is similar. It is not as if it's all down to one person to win and then hope you win the doubles. We can really be confident about all three matches, and we will see where we go if we get to the semis. From there it can only get easier!"