Shvedova primed for historic home tie against Germany

04/04/2022 17:00

Kazakhstan captain Yaroslava Shvedova is ready to put on a show in her country’s first home tie at Qualifier level in Billie Jean King Cup by BNP Paribas

By Ed Pearson
Shvedova primed for historic home tie against Germany

Kazakhstan captain Yaroslava Shvedova is ready to put on a show in her country’s first home tie at Qualifier level in Billie Jean King Cup by BNP Paribas.

The multiple major doubles champion, who retired in October last year, can’t wait to take on Germany with a place in the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup Finals at stake and she believes her home crowd might just make the difference in what looks like a very close tie on paper.

“Germany is a very strong team,” the 34-year-old said. “But we are a strong team too and finally we can compete at home and hopefully inspire our players so that we can break through and be in the final.

“The key for victory will be our desire and our home crowd. The boys in Davis Cup have proven how incredible it is to play at home, and they won here many times, so finally we have this chance and hopefully we can make it too.”

It will not be the first time that women’s team tennis has been played on Kazakh soil, with four Asia/Oceania Group I events being hosted there between 2013 and 2019, but the Billie Jean King Cup Qualifier on 15-16 April will be the first best-of-five series to showcase the women’s team on home soil.

“Billie Jean King Cup is such an incredible event,” Shvedova added. “It brings out many different feelings from players and inspires athletes to do incredible results. So anyone can beat anyone.

“It would be huge for Kazakhstan [to reach the finals]. We will be very excited and we’re going to use the energy of the crowd to help us get there.”

Shvedova is no stranger to the women’s world cup of tennis having competed as a player 30 times between 2009 and 2021. Her last appearance against Argentina was as a playing captain and even though she has loved representing her nation, she’s looking forward to putting all of her effort into her new role as captain this time round.

“I can focus 100 per cent on the girls now,” she explained. “Against Argentina, I knew I had to save some energy in case I had to compete, but now I’ll be fully focused on them. I have a great team and I’m very excited to be their captain.”

With two players ranked inside the world’s Top 50 in singles in No. 18 Elena Rybakina and No. 46 Yulia Putintseva and with the support of a fervent home crowd in Nur-Sultan, it wouldn’t be a huge upset were Kazakhstan to oust Germany and book a place in the end of year Finals.

And with the men’s team having booked their place at the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals for a third consecutive edition, it’s little surprise that Shvedova has seen the impact at grass roots level.

She added: “It’s great to see tennis doing well in Kazakhstan. This is my sport. It’s my life. It’s what I have been doing since I was a little girl.

“Our good results inspire people to get on court and try tennis. Some years ago, I was coming back to Nur-Sultan and I was trying to practise, but the courts were full and kids were non-stop coming and going and hitting the balls and there were a lot of classes – it’s so exciting to see this.

“The Kazakhstan Tennis Federation is young and tennis in Kazakhstan is young, but to see such improvements and to see the results of the hard work of the federation is great. Hopefully in the future we will have more and more incredible players and Grand Slam champions.”