Belinda Bencic. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images for LTA)
Switzerland gave the country’s tennis fans still mourning the retirement of Roger Federer something to celebrate as their women beat Australia in Glasgow on Sunday to lift the Billie Jean King Cup for the first time.
Two months after Federer, one of the greatest players in the history of the game, bid farewell to tennis in London, his compatriots Belinda Bencic and Jil Teichmann both scored singles victories as Switzerland inflicted more misery to Australia in a competition formerly known as the Federation Cup.
It was Switzerland’s third appearance in the final. They lost to now-banned Russia last year – the first edition of the rebranded Billie Jean King Cup – and were also runners-up when Martina Hingis was their team’s key figure in 1998.
“What happened last year gave us extra motivation,” said Bencic, the world number 12.
“We were so heartbroken, I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much.
“Then Jil said we would win it next year and we did. I’m incredibly proud.”
Switzerland were superb in Glasgow, not losing a ‘live’ game despite a difficult draw.
For Australia, this marked yet another disappointment. Since their victory in 1974, they have appeared in 10 finals, losing each of them.
King was among the crowd in Glasgow on Sunday and took to the pitch to clap the hands of all the players before the game started.
Australia’s Storm Sanders, unbeaten in singles all week, defied her lowly world ranking of 237 before Teichmann triumphed 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in a match lasting over two hours.
Bencic, who won gold in singles and silver in doubles at the Tokyo Olympics last year, impressed again in national colors as they beat Ajla Tomljanovic 6-2, 6-1 to avoid a decisive clash two fold.
“I’m extremely proud of my team,” Australia captain Alicia Molik said. “It was a phenomenal effort all week from the Aussies. We gave it our all.
“But credit to the Swiss team – it was flawless tennis from Belinda.”