Home SPORTS Billie Jean King Cup Finals: Great Britain avoid elimination after Spain beat Kazakhstan

Billie Jean King Cup Finals: Great Britain avoid elimination after Spain beat Kazakhstan

by Zulu Forum
By Jonathan JurejkoBBC Sport in Glasgow
Spain's Paula Badosa hits a return at the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup Finals
Paula Badosa, who was ranked second in the world earlier this year, clinched Spain’s victory by beating Kazakhstan’s Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina

Great Britain avoided being eliminated from the Billie Jean King Cup Finals before even playing their second group tie after Spain beat Kazakhstan to keep the hosts’ hopes alive in Glasgow.

Britain, without the injured Emma Raducanu, lost their opening tie against Kazakhstan on Tuesday.

The Kazakhs would have progressed to the semi-finals and eliminated Britain if they had beaten Spain on Wednesday.

But Spain’s win means Anne Keothavong’s team can still qualify on Thursday.

Britain’s team of Harriet Dart, Katie Boulter, Heather Watson, Olivia Nicholls and Alicia Barnett, take on Spain in Group C’s final tie in Glasgow’s Emirates Arena.

The tie, which will not start before 16:00 GMT, will be shown live on the BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport website.

The BJK Cup Finals sees 12 teams split across four groups, with the winners of the round-robin stage going through to the semi-finals.

Britain failed to qualify after losing to the Czech Republic in April, but were given a spot as the host nation when Glasgow was awarded the event.

Keothavong’s team are ranked below group rivals Spain and Kazakhstan, with their prospects of causing a shock hampered by the absence of star player Raducanu because of a wrist injury.

Three flights, six time zones & little sleep – Mertens makes mad dash

Elise Mertens
Elise Mertens won the WTA Finals doubles title in Texas on Monday – and played in Glasgow on Wednesday

The draining physical effects of long flights and travelling through time zones is something many of us know all too well.

So spare a thought for Belgian tennis player Elise Mertens, who made a mad dash from the WTA Finals in Texas to the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in Glasgow.

Mertens, 26, won the doubles title alongside Veronika Kudermetova in Fort Worth on Monday night.

Not even 24 hours later, after three flights and going through six time zones, she arrived in Scotland at 21:47 GMT on Tuesday.

She was not ready to play in the singles on Wednesday morning and, in her absence, Belgium lost both matches without their highest-ranked player as Slovakia clinched the best-of-three tie.

On Wednesday afternoon, Mertens won in the doubles alongside Kirsten Flipkens – which could prove important for the Belgians’ hopes of reaching the semi-finals.

“I would be frustrated if I lost but we won, so this is all good,” said Mertens, who is ranked 29th in the world.

“I had my flight at 10pm [from Fort Worth] and I was still doing media at 8:15pm.

“We rushed. I barely showered. We got to the airport at like 8:55pm. They said we had four minutes for the bags. One bag on the scale. Two minutes. Oh my God.

“My mom and I ran to the gate and we made it. Then three flights, we went to Madrid, went to London, and then to Glasgow.

“It’s been quite a journey.”

The close proximity of the two tournaments has led to criticism, including from Poland’s world number one Iga Swiatek.

Swiatek, a three-time Grand Slam champion, said the scheduling was “not safe” and withdrew from the BJK Cup Finals.

Mertens said she hoped the WTA and ITF would address the issue next year, but was able to look at the situation in “a positive way”.

“I’m feeling good. It was a long trip, but I’m dedicated to play for Belgium,” added Mertens, who had seven hours of sleep and a “little nap” before earning a 6-0 6-3 win with Flipkens.

“Even though we lost, we still have a chance. I think we have to look on the positive side.”

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