How did they get in?
The route that Slovakia used to get into the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup through the Gainbridge Finals was a bit complex. It all started on March 1 when the International Tennis Federation (ITF) banned the membership of the Russian Tennis Federation (RTF) as well as their participation in ITF team competition.
Having won the 2021 tournament, the RTF automatically qualified for this year’s women’s world cup of tennis extravaganza. However, this was changed because Russia invaded Ukraine and the conflict there is still ongoing.
After the RTF was disqualified from participating in ITF team competition, Australia, who had finished as the highest-ranked losing semi-finalist in the first iteration of the Finals in 2021, was selected to take their spot at the 2022 event.
This had a domino effect because Australia was supposed to compete against Slovakia in the qualifiers for the month of April, and the victor of that match would have advanced to the championship round. After it became clear that Australia would be participating in Glasgow, the decision was made to exclude Slovakia from the competition.
After being drawn into Group B alongside each other as well as Belgium, Slovakia and Australia will play each other in the very first match of the week at the Finals. The three nations will compete against each other alongside Belgium. To refresh your memory, the best team from each of the four groups will advance to the semi-finals of the competition.
This year honors the 20th anniversary of Slovakia, whose players represented Czechoslovakia until 1994, finishing on top of the Billie Jean King Cup podium for the very first time in the competition’s history. They have not yet accomplished the feat again.
Gran Canaria served as the setting for one of the most memorable moments in Slovakia’s history in 2002, when they were victorious over a Spain squad that featured Conchita Martinez and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in their very own backyard.
Daniela Hantuchova, a former world No. 5 and a semi-finalist at the 2008 Australian Open, was the star of the show as she racked up two singles victories before Janette Husarova delivered the knockout blow by defeating Sanchez Vicario. Daniela Hantuchova was a semi-finalist at the 2008 Australian Open.
The closest that Slovakia has been to emulating their victory was in 2013, when they reached the semi-finals but were ultimately defeated by the RTF in a tough match in Moscow. This was the closest they have come to accomplishing their goal.
Player to keep an eye on
147th in the world Viktoria Kuzmova is one of those players who tends to save her very best form for when she is competing for her country, as evidenced by the fact that she now holds a record of 30 wins and 20 losses in singles competition so far this season.
Since her very first match in the tournament, which she lost to Natalia Vikhlyantseva of the RTF in 2018, the 24-year-old player has gone undefeated in her singles competitions in the Billie Jean King Cup. She has won her last seven singles matches in this competition.
At the 2021 Billie Jean King Cup Finals, Kuzmova displayed similar form by posting wins against Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain and Shelby Rogers of the United States. Despite these victories, Slovakia was eliminated in the group round.
Renata Jamrichova, a 15-year-old rookie, will compete for Slovakia at the Finals with Tereza Mihalikova, Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, Kuzmova, and Rebecca Sramkova.
Jamrichova will be the youngest Slovakian to play in the Billie Jean King Cup if she steps onto the court and competes at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena.
Dominika Cibulkova now holds the record. In 2005, against Thailand, she made her competitive debut at the age of 16 years, 65 days. Cibulkova later participated in 22 Billie Jean King Cup matches.
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