Italy continue winning streak to earn maiden Finals spot

15/04/2022 17:00

Italy will take part in the Billie Jean King Cup Finals for the first time after Camila Giorgi secured the decisive point in their 3-0 victory over France in Sardinia

By Matt Roberts
Italy continue winning streak to earn maiden Finals spot

Italy will take part in the Billie Jean King Cup Finals for the first time after Camila Giorgi secured the decisive point in their 3-0 victory over France in Sardinia. 

The hosts came into the second day of the tie with a 2-0 lead, courtesy of wins for Giorgi and Jasmine Paolini on Friday, and it took Giorgi just 70 minutes to thrash Harmony Tan 6-2 6-0 and complete a dominant weekend. 

Italian captain Tathiana Garbin was understandably delighted: “We are not just happy, we are in seventh heaven!," she beamed. “This group deserved it. Yesterday Paolini played an extraordinary match, you saw Giorgi today. The credit is all theirs, I'm lucky enough to be the captain of this team. These girls showed how courage is measured.” 

After a difficult opening day, French captain Julien Benneteau opted to switch up his team, swapping in Tan for her competition debut instead of sticking with the vastly more experienced Alizé Cornet. In a must-win match, it was certainly a bold move. 

Tan started promisingly, breaking Giorgi’s serve in the first game of the match. That was something which Océane Dodin couldn’t manage yesterday and it seemed initially that Tan’s counter-attacking game style could have more success against Giorgi. 

Indeed, the opening stages were tactically intriguing, with Tan using her slice to keep the ball low, and Giorgi looking to pounce on any short ball. Tan is not a complete stranger to mixing it with players ranked much higher than her - she has beaten Yulia Putintseva and Madison Keys already this season - but the 77 ranking places between the two players soon became evident. 

After starting the contest with a flurry of unforced errors, Giorgi found her range to devastating effect, winning 12 games in a row to seal the match. When Giorgi is in this mood - swiping the ball confidently and striding purposely between points - there are very few players who can live with her. She hit winners off both wings, came forward to finish points with drive volleys, and generally dominated her opponent. 

“I'm happy, it was a great match”, Giorgi said afterwards. “At the beginning it was a bit difficult, then I fixed my game and it went very well, I'm very happy. It was a wonderful week and it's fantastic to finish it like this." 

Victory for Italy extends their winning streak in the Billie Jean King Cup to six ties and Garbin’s side has real spirit and momentum behind it. “The Finals are the crowning of a dream, the reward for a daily job carried out with a lot of passion”, she said.  

Paolini set the weekend up perfectly with her extraordinary win over Cornet, and as Martina Trevisan and Lucia Bronzetti danced and celebrated the victory under the Sardinian sunshine, you got the feeling that they were eager and ready to step up if called upon. 

But there’s no doubt that Giorgi is the team’s leader. Her two wins this weekend mark the first time she has won multiple matches in the same Billie Jean King Cup tie, and it must have been sweet for her to be involved in a winning side against France having lost to Les Bleus on two previous occasions. 

Since winning the competition for the third time in 2019, France are on a three-match losing streak in the Billie Jean King Cup. Despite being the No. 2 side in the BJK Cup Nations Ranking, they won’t be at the Finals this November. Instead, they must now win a Play-off tie to return to the Qualifiers in 2023. 

“There was no miracle," Benneteau said. “We knew it would be difficult. We had some issues to deal with. Camila Giorgi had two excellent matches. Congratulations to her and to Team Italy. We tried, but it wasn't enough.”