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AUSTRALIA ADVANCE TO THE BILLIE JEAN KING CUP SEMIFINALS

Posted By Jedd Zetzer  
05/11/2021
08:00 AM

Storm Sanders and Ajla Tomljanovic have sent Australia into the semifinals of the Billie Jean King Cup, with two impressive singles victories, cementing Australia’s place at the top of Group B.

Sanders opened the days play in Prague with an emphatic 6-3, 6-2 straight sets victory over Yuliya Hatouka in 63 minutes.

After taking down Elise Mertens in her Billie Jean King Cup debut on Tuesday, the 27 year old hit 17 winners and won 77% of points on her first serve, improving her record to 2-0 for Australia with an impressive performance. 

“For me to come out and deliver under pressure, it’s a great feeling. I played a really solid match. I was a little bit tired from my two matches on Tuesday, but I came out and just fought really hard,” Sanders said in her post match interview.

“I’m really proud of myself to be able to have that performance [here], just give myself that belief heading into preseason and then the Australian summer of tennis.”

“This was my first Top-20 win and coming into the Australian summer as well, it’s for me very exciting.”

“I’ve had a really good season this year. It was a long seven months away from home, obviously very difficult to get back to Australia and a lot of us Australian players did find it really tough, but a lot of us had really great results this year, which is something we can be really proud of.”

“I was injured in 2018 with a shoulder injury, and honestly I never thought I’d be playing singles for Australia in the Billie Jean King Cup Finals. To have two wins as well, honestly it’s a dream come true and I’m just really, really proud to be able to step out on court,” Sanders said. 

After missing Tuesday’s action with illness, Ajla Tomljanovic made her first appearance in the tournament for Australia on Thursday, and dug deep, coming from a set down to defeat Aliaksandra Sasnovich 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, securing the tie for Australia.

Tomljanovic won 66% of first serve points and converted on 7/10 break point opportunities to clinch victory.

“There’s no greater feeling, I was happy that I could come out today and the fact that I got a point makes me unbelievably happy. I just feel like I came here to help the team and ended up doing that, so that makes me happy,” Tomljanovic said in her post match interview.

“She played some great tennis those first six, seven games and I just tried to hang in there. I snagged a little break in the second set and played a good set. But then it got tricky, she raised her level in the third, so I think in the end it was a good quality match,” Tomljanovic said.

In the third rubber of the tie, Alicia Molik handed 19 year old Queenslander Olivia Gadecki her debut for Australia, alongside doubles world no. 43 Ellen Perez.

The pair conceded the dead rubber to Belarusian duo Lisziya Marozava and Aliaksandra Sasnovich 4-6, 4-6.

The triumph sees Australia advance to its five semifinal of the competition in the last 30 years. 

Listen to The First Serve with Brett Phillips each Monday at 8pm AEDT on 1116AM SEN Melbourne, 1629AM SEN SA / 1170am Sydney or listen live and catch up on the SEN App. 

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