Pegula sends US past Austria to Billie Jean King Cup finals

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France's Caroline Garcia reacts after her side win the Billie Jean King Cup qualifying match between Great Britain and France at the Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry, England, Saturday April 15, 2023. (Bradley Collyer/PA via AP)

Jessica Pegula sent the U.S. into the Billie Jean King Cup finals, where the Americans will have the chance to extend their record for most titles.

Pegula and Coco Gauff both won twice in a 4-0 victory over Austria in Delray Beach, Florida. Pegula clinched the best-of-five tie for the Americans with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Austria's Julia Grabher on Saturday.

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“I think it’s fun and a privilege to be in this moment and do it,” the third-ranked Pegula said. “Obviously a little bit of pressure, but I think it’s fun to get up for those types of matches.”

The victory gave the Americans a 3-0 lead and Gauff followed by reuniting with former partner Caty McNally to beat Sinja Kraus and Melanie Klaffner 6-1, 6-4. Pegula also won her singles match Friday after No. 6 Gauff, playing in her hometown, beat Grabher in the opener.

Now the Americans can eye a 19th title in the women's team event.

“I think knowing all of the American women, they’re all competitive, so I’m sure they’re going to want to bring that Cup home, too,” U.S. captain Kathy Rinaldi said.

France, Spain, the Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Germany, Canada and Italy also secured berths in the finals, scheduled for Nov. 7-12 at a site to be determined. Those nations will join reigning champion Switzerland, 2022 runner-up Australia and one wild-card recipient at the finals, with one spot still be determined from the qualifiers.

All of those nations have won the Cup except Kazakhstan and Canada. But reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina won both her matches in a 3-1 home victory over Poland, clinching a second consecutive finals berth for Kazakhstan with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Magda Linette on Saturday in Astana.

"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," Rybakina said.

"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.”

Canada advanced with a 3-2 victory over Belgium when Leylah Fernandez and Gabriela Dabrowski beat Kirsten Flipkens and Greet Minnen 6-1, 6-2. Fernandez, the 2021 U.S. Open runner-up, went 3-0 on the weekend in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The tie between Italy and Slovakia in Bratislava, Slovakia, also went the distance. After the hosts won two straight matches to battle back from a 2-0 deficit, Martina Trevisan and Elisabetta Cocciaretto pulled out a 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 victory over Viktoria Hruncakova and Tereza Mihalikova in the doubles match.

In other results: Caroline Garcia secured the winning point for France in a 3-1 victory at Britain by outlasting Harriet Dart 6-1, 6-7 (10), 6-1; 2019 French Open runner-up Marketa Vondrousova gave the Czech Republic a 3-1 victory over Ukraine in a tie that was moved to Turkey after Russia's invasions of Ukraine; Nuria Parrizas-Diaz won for the second straight day as Spain beat Mexico 3-1; and Germany rallied to beat Brazil 3-1.

Slovenia came back from 0-2 down to beat Romania in a tie that needed an extra day to finish the qualifying round because rain halted the decisive doubles match after the teams split four singles matches in Koper, Slovenia. Resuming Sunday morning at 3-3 in the first set, the hosts completed their comeback with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 win. It was the eighth time in the history of the Billie Jean King Cup that a team overcame an 0-2 start to win and the first since France beat Italy 3-2 in 2015.


AP tennis: and

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