Rybakina sidesteps fatigue to fire Kazakhstan to Finals in snowy Astana

15/04/2023 00:00

Kazakhstan will compete at the Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge Finals for the second successive season after world No. 7 Elena Rybakina dispatched Poland’s Magda Linette to seal a comprehensive 3-0 victory

By Ross McLean
Rybakina sidesteps fatigue to fire Kazakhstan to Finals in snowy Astana

Kazakhstan will compete at the Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge Finals for the second successive season after world No. 7 Elena Rybakina dispatched Poland’s Magda Linette to seal a comprehensive 3-0 victory for the hosts in snowy Astana.

With a commanding lead from the opening day, Rybakina knew that one further match-win would propel her nation to November’s Finals, and she delivered in clinical fashion by brushing aside Linette 6-4 6-2.

Kazakhstan will again take their place alongside the very best teams on the planet and battle to be crowned global champions, while it also continues the nation’s upward trajectory in the women’s world cup of tennis.

Prior to competing at last season’s Finals, Kazakhstan’s previous best result in Billie Jean King Cup was reaching the World Group II play-offs on three occasions – in 2013, 2017 and 2020.  

Having players like 2022 Wimbledon champion Rybakina at their disposal does no harm at all to an aspiring nation’s chances of success. After all, she currently occupies a career-high ranking and was on the cusp of the Sunshine Double at Miami earlier this month.

“I am so glad that I managed to win and now for the second time in the history of our team we have made it to the Billie Jean King Cup Finals,” said Rybakina, who has won five of the seven singles matches she has contested in the competition.

“It was a difficult match today. I felt so tired that even at the end, during the on-court interview, I didn’t understand the questions to be honest. I felt better yesterday, maybe some sort of fatigue from flying and a recent return from America to Europe.

“But, as I say, I am delighted that Kazakhstan have once again made it to the Billie Jean King Cup Finals and we will be able to fly our nation’s flag on this big stage.”

Despite her apparent fatigue, Rybakina was ruthlessly efficient against Linette, breaking her serve at pivotal moments before stampeding to victory in one hour and 23 minutes – to the delight of the home crowd. The whole occasion received Kazakhstan captain Yaroslava Shvedova’s seal of approval.

“I am proud of my team,” said Shvedova. “We defeated a difficult team with experienced players and even without Iga [Swiatek], Poland were a dangerous opponent. I am so glad that we won and that we are going to the Finals of the women’s world cup of tennis.

“I would also like to say a huge thank you to our fans who braved the snow, strong wind and frost and came to support us.”

Bulat Utemuratov, President of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation, was keen to lavish praise on the Kazakhstan team for once again flying their national flag with distinction. 

"Congratulations to our national team for winning the Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge Qualifier in Astana and reaching the Finals," he said. 

"Winning a hard-fought victory against Poland, the Kazakhstan national team once again showed exceptional levels of performance and earned the title of one of the strongest teams internationally, which is also in the Top 10 of the Billie Jean King Cup Rankings. 

"Along with star players Elena Rybakina, Yulia Putintseva and Anna Danilina, the young players like Janel Rustemova and Aruzhan Sagandikova, as well as the already experienced Gozal Ainitdinova, also greatly contributed to the success of the Kazakhstan team. 

"Once again, I would like to congratulate everyone on their success and wish our athletes more victories and the best of luck at the upcoming Finals."

The tie ended 3-1 in Kazakhstan's favour after Poland's Weronika Falkowska and Alicja Rosolska defeated Anna Danilina and Yulia Putintseva, 6-4 6-4, in doubles.