Switzerland 0-4 Poland: Swiatek seals deal to send Poles into Finals

13/04/2024 14:09

Iga Swiatek has booked Poland’s place in the Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge Finals with 2022 title winners Switzerland heading for November’s Play-offs

By Kate Clark
Switzerland 0-4 Poland: Swiatek seals deal to send Poles into Finals
Amid jubilant scenes in front of visiting fans in Biel, world No.1 Iga Swiatek ensured Poland’s place in the Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge Finals in November with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Swiss teenager Celine Naef.
Poland went into the second day of the Qualifiers in a commanding position following wins on day one for Swiatek over Simona Waltert followed by Magdalena Frech’s victory over Naef.
Swiatek took to court on Saturday in the knowledge that just one more point would secure Poland’s place in November's Finals in Seville for a third consecutive year.
2022 title winners Switzerland, who were without their top two players Viktorija Golubic and Belinda Bencic, will compete in the Play-offs.
“I’m super happy and proud of everybody,” Swiatek said. “It’s been a really fun week so I’m happy that this time I could lead my team to be in the Finals.
“Hopefully we’re going to finish it in November, but I’m super proud of what we achieved for these two days and now we’ll have fun in doubles.”
Polish captain Dawid Celt was also delighted with his team's performance, even if the last few days in Switzerland had taken it out of him. 
“I’m really tired. Two tough days at the office, but finally with a happy end. I’m proud of my team. We knew before the match it wouldn’t be easy competition and I was right.
"The whole team is fantastic, we have a great atmosphere, everybody knows what they have to do, which part they have to do. I believe next year will be as great as the last one for us."
Swiatek's victory over a tenacious Naef sealed her seventh consecutive Billie Jean King Cup match win - her last defeat was back in 2019 against Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska – but the world No.1 didn’t have it all her own way, especially in the second set.
“I feel like my focus went down a little bit, rookie mistake, and Celine for sure used it,” Swiatek admitted. “We are playing against good players, you can’t really have these moments, but I knew that I can refocus again and find my discipline so at the end I did that and I’m happy.”
"I think she has a big talent," Swiatek said of Naef. "And she has the potential to play well on the WTA Tour."
Swiss captain Heinz Gunthardt echoed that sentiment about the whole team: "They are very young so I believe this is a team that can grow and it could happen reasonably quickly," he said. "Within one year we might even achieve a completely different level, which you need if you really want to compete in the Billie Jean King Cup at the highest level.
"There is no question about it, these are the best teams in the world and I believe we have the potential to be one of the best teams in the world with the girls that are sitting here."
While the presence of world No.1 Swiatek on the team was no doubt the boost the Poles were hoping for, it was Frech’s performance against Naef on day one that secured the 2-0 lead for the team.
Despite being 96 ranking places above the eighteen-year-old Swiss, Frech had no easy ride, with Naef’s never-say-die attitude hounding her to the end.  
The teenager, who is yet to win a match in her country’s colours, played with impressive confidence and aggression, including breaking Frech to love in the second set before failing to serve out the match.
Frech’s ability to dig deep and get Poland over the line in an intense third set will be a boost for the 26-year-old, who had not won a tour-level match since February.
"I’m really happy I could win this important point for Poland," she said. 
"I will do everything to be [at the Finals in Seville] and am just waiting for the nomination from the captain. I hope we can fight as a team because this team is strong and I think after this tournament we’ll be even stronger."
Swiatek’s two wins in Biel have continued an impressive year for the four-time Grand Slam winner.
“It’s been already a pretty great season,” she said. “I started better than last year so I’m feeling pretty confident and feel like I can just enjoy playing because I don’t need to focus on rankings or anything else so I’ll try to do that through to the end of the season.”
And with team preparations now turning to the Finals, Celt knows that having Swiatek in Seville in November will be a huge talisman for the team. 
"It’s very important, I believe. All captains would like to have her in their team – she’s the best player in the world at this moment," he said. 
She plays everywhere very solid tennis and she’s very consistent so it means a lot for me and it means a lot for the whole team that she’s truly there and I believe she will come often to play in the national team." 
Poland made it a clean sweep of matches in Biel as Maja Chwalinska and Katarzyna Kawa secured a 7-5 6-1 win over Jil Teichmann and Waltert in the doubles.