Swiatek seals Poland's place in Billie Jean King Cup Finals

15/04/2022 17:00

Poland cruised into the Billie Jean King Cup by BNP Paribas Finals after world No. 1 Iga Swiatek overwhelmed Romanian debutant Andreea Prisacariu in Radom

By Jamie Renton
Swiatek seals Poland's place in Billie Jean King Cup Finals

There’s just no stopping Iga Swiatek.

Poland cruised into the Billie Jean King Cup by BNP Paribas Finals after the world No. 1 overwhelmed Romanian debutant Andreea Prisacariu 6-0 6-0 in a 45-minute third match in Radom on Saturday.

The 20-year-old secured her 19th singles win in a row in double-quick time, notching her 10th and 11th bagels of the season so far (and her first double bagel since she dismantled Karolina Pliskova in the Rome final last May) to seal an unassailable 3-0 lead and book her nation’s spot in the Finals of the women’s world cup of tennis for the first time.

“[I'm] really proud of us,” Swiatek said. “I was really working hard for that even though I didn’t play [the competition] last year. I feel like it’s been a long journey. It took us a few years, step by step to progress and qualify finally.

“It just shows how strong a team we are. Hopefully in the Finals we are going to show even more progress, and we’re going to succeed.”

With Swiatek steering the ship, it’s going to take a formidable team to stop them.

The world No. 1 was imperious in her 6-1 6-0 victory over Mihaela Buzarnescu on the opening day and was ably backed up in the opening match by world No. 58 Magda Linette, whose 6-1 4-6 6-2 victory over Irina-Camelia Begu was rather more dominant than the scoreline suggests.

Throwing in 22-year-old Prisacariu for her Billie Jean King Cup debut against the world’s best player was the ultimate baptism of fire and something of a last resort by new Romania captain Horia Tecau. Then again, how do you tackle Swiatek in this kind of form? With no obvious solution, Tecau opted for the element of surprise.

Sadly for Romania, the gamble didn’t work. World No. 324 Prisacariu, who had her teammates in fits of giggles in her rookie speech ahead of the tie, proved a strong character and gave a decent account of herself in spite of the onslaught, but she wasn't to be the one to end Swiatek's stunning streak.

Romania will wonder how different the tie might have been were they able to call on the injured Simona Halep, but the day – and the weekend – belonged to Poland, who could reflect on the realisation of a dream in securing their spot at the competition’s top table.

"I'm really happy," reflected Linette. "That was a great day today. This journey started so many years ago and we’re continuing it. Each one of us has put something into the pot and we’re having these great results, so I just hope we’re going to continue."

"All the girls were working so hard over the years," added Alicja Rosolska, the Polish record holder for ties played (39) and doubles match-wins (27), who added another win to her tally alongside Magdalena Frech in a 5-7 6-3 10-5 doubles win over Buzarnescu and Andreea Mitu that completed a 4-0 victory.

"It’s not just today. We’ve been working really hard with the captain to make this team so strong."

It was a journey that began, for captain Dawid Celt, four years ago at the Europe/Africa Group I event in Estonia and included the same players he fielded for this weekend’s tie, minus the youngest member of the team, Maja Chwalinska.

Ten wins (and just two defeats) later, the Finals await.

“I’m really proud of my team,” Celt said. “I have very good players, and the leader of the WTA rankings. We achieved our goal. We started from nowhere: from Tallinn to the Billie Jean King Cup Finals. I’m really happy for all of them.”