DIRECT FROM SEVILLE | The last time Czech female tennis players triumphed in the BJK Cup was five years ago. And they intend to end the dark ages in Seville, Spain, where they have taken a major step towards success. In a match for everything, in which the two most successful countries in history presented themselves, they turned the match against the USA to 2:1. With this, they won their group and on Saturday from 16:00 they will go as favorites to the semi-finals with Canada led by Leylah Fernandez, the 35th ranked tennis player. The second pair in the play-off is Italy and Slovenia.
They haven’t experienced much joy together in recent months. Injuries came, the once dominant couple had lackluster results. They didn’t even advance from the group at the Tournament of Champions. In Seville, where Kateřina Siniaková and Barbora Krejčíková rushed from Mexico, they found themselves in ecstasy. The winning point from the doubles against the American pair Danielle Collinsová – Taylor Townsendová (6:3, 7:5) sent the Czech Republic to the semifinals of the BJK Cup. For Krejčíková, it was the biggest triumph so far in the national team colors. This is how the Friday thriller of the two biggest favorites for the title ended spectacularly, as the mischievous lot had already drawn them into the group for the second year in a row. And the Czechs cheer for the second time.
While last year in Glasgow they finally crashed in the semi-finals against the later champions from Switzerland, now the path to the twelfth cup seems more open. The other opponents Canada, Italy and Slovenia do not have the same quality as the Czechs. Secondly, the Czech selection in Spain is five (last year the injured Krejčíková withdrew) and also seems much more tuned. Wimbledon champion Markéta Vondroušová rested in Seville, she went on the court for the first time only on Friday and in a critical situation 0:1 she showed a storm in the match against the American number one Sofia Keninova, to whom she allowed only two games. And Krejčíková and Siniaková confirmed what they were betting on – Czech doubles power.
With Krejčíková, the world’s top ten, captain Petr Pála can also count on singles. “And I will too,” he declared when explaining why he gave second singles Katerina Siniaková a chance against the Americans. She caught a wave at the end of the season and won 9 out of 10 singles matches. In the opening match against the American sock Danielle Collins, she also carried a positive mutual balance of 1:0.
At 3:3, Siniaková was the first to reach three break points, but the 29-year-old American erased them with three winners and got into the game. Immediately, she took the serve of the native from Hradec Králové and extended the opening set to 6:3. Collins has a reputation as a chameleon on the circuit. Because of the risky game, she can sometimes defeat herself, but when she has a day, it is difficult to face her. And in Seville, she surpassed the Czech sokyna in terms of serving efficiency and faster play. At the beginning of the second set, the former finalist of the Australian Open raced to a 3:1 lead.
The Czech response to the critical situation was vigorous. After five days of preparation in Seville, Wimbledon champion Markéta Vondroušová stepped onto the court and equalized in a directive manner. In the duel between the Grand Slam winners, she defeated the American No. 1 Kenina 6:1, 6:1 in just 70 minutes. The American, who had Thursday’s three-hour match against the Swiss Viktorija Golubicová, had to take the end as a relief. Even so, Vondroušová’s exhibition was impressive. After all, she was playing under the pressure of a necessary victory and with five previous defeats in a row that she suffered on the WTA Tour. In national colors, however, this married (civil name Šimková) lady from Sokolov is almost unbeatable. She already won the thirteenth consecutive triumph in them, moreover, all without losing a set. The last time she lost was more than six years ago at the Fedcup premiere.
And K+S doubles also got into the caliber in Spain. It was hard to believe that Tuesday’s “practice” win over the Swiss pair was their first ever team competition for the Czech Republic. The second and much more valuable one against the USA already meant progress to the semi-finals. And the promise that it can be even better at the weekend.