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Romania sees spectacular comeback in women’s tennis

Romania’s women’s tennis team qualified for the Billie Jean King Cup Finals for the first time after beating Ukraine 3-2.

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, 15.04.2024, 13:50

“Incredible”, “fabulous”, “miraculous”, “spectacular” and “fairytale-like”, are some of the words used by the Romanian and international sports press to describe Romania’s qualification for the Billie Jean King Cup Finals, a team competition that is a sort of world championship in women’s tennis.

 

In their qualifying matches held at Fernandina Beach, in the American state of Florida, Romania beat Ukraine 3-2. The Romanian team was made up of Ana Bogdan (world no. 64 in the singles ranking and no. 318 in the doubles ranking), Jaqueline Cristian (world no. 75 in singles and no. 215 in doubles), Anca Todoni (world no. 191 in singles and no. 724 in doubles), Mara Gae (world no. 1,062 in singles), as well as Simona Halep, who retired, however, with an injury. Ukraine’s team was made up of better ranked players, such as world no. 18 Elina Svitolina and world no. 42 Lesia Tsurenko, as well as Yuliia Starodubtseva (world no. 138 in singles and no. 146 in doubles), Lyudmyla Kichenok (world no. 18 in doubles) and Nadiia Kichenok (world no. 42 in doubles).

 

On Friday, after the first day of matches, Ukraine was leading 2-nil overall, as Ana Bogdan lost to Lesia Tsurenko in three sets and Jaqueline Cristian lost to Elina Svitolina in straight sets. Hope of a win after all returned on Saturday, when Ana Bogdan beat Elina Svitolina in three sets and Jaqueline Cristian beat Lesia Tsurenko, also in three sets. It was now 2-0 all, with the decisive match to be held on Sunday. At this point, the captain of the Romanian team, Horia Tecău, changed the composition of the doubles team and replaced Mara Gae and Anca Todoni with the winners of the previous day, Ana Bogdan and Jaqueline Cristian, who went on to face the twins Lyudmyla and Nadiia Kichenok. The Romanians won the first set 6-2 and then also won the second at tiebreak, 9-7, thus taking Romania to the Billie Jean King Cup Finals, which will be held in Seville, Spain between 12th and 17th November. The Romanian and Ukrainian teams have played each other four times to date, Romania winning three times.

 

The Billie Jean King Cup was known as the Federation Cup between 1963 and 1995 and as the Fed Cup between 1996 and 2020. Before the switch to the new format of the competition, Romania obtained its best results in 1973 and 2019, when it went all the way to the semifinals. In 1974, 1978, 1980, 1981 and 2016 it reached as far as the quarterfinals. The teams playing in the Billie Jean King Cup Finals are the defending champions Canada, the 2023 finalist Italy, the host country Spain, the Czech team, who got a wildcard, as well as Australia, Japan, Poland, Great Britain, Slovakia, Germany, the US and now also Romania.

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