Billie Jean King Cup 2023: Spain, 90s nostalgia and a 25-year drought | Tennis | Sports

Billie Jean King, who is almost 80 and can still pick up a racket and a volley with great style, looks back three decades and recalls: “Every time we played Spain and I captained the United States, we lost; In fact, we lost many matches because Arantxa and Conchita were there. Now, by the way, Conchita is our tournament director, that’s why we love her so much…” the famous legend joked, referring to…

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Billie Jean King, who is almost 80 and can still pick up a racket and a volley with great style, looks back three decades and recalls: “Every time we played Spain and I captained the United States, we lost; In fact, we lost many matches because Arantxa and Conchita were there. Now, by the way, Conchita is our tournament director, that’s why we love her so much…” the famous legend joked, referring to those glorious 90s in which the Spanish team participated in the then US Soccer Federation Cup, and translated. His bets ranked the titles: 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1998. Five in total, only one less than those obtained so far in the Davis Cup, the male equivalent.

You have to go back 25 years and mentally travel to the Palexpo hall in Geneva to find this latest achievement, which is now far away. From there, we lost three finals and a painful drought that continues today in Seville, where the list cited by Anabel Medina – Sara Sorribes (50th in the world), Rebeca Massarova (65th), Paula Badosa (66th), Cristina Buxa (83rd). ) and Marina Passols – aspires to end the drought. “I always say that in this competition, playing at home or away is very important. Since I was captain, we have played about 14 qualifying rounds, only three of which were here,” says the coach, while history says that Spain have not achieved a result since 2008, when it lost to Russia (0-0.4) at Villa de Madrid Country Club.

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“It’s true that we love playing on clay, but even though it’s a fast court, it’s not very fast; it’s a playable surface, and I think that helps us as well. “With all the fans there, we hope to step up, have fun and compete in the best way possible,” she says. Sara Sorribes, the current leader and in the lead, since Paula Badosa had to stop permanently in July – due to a fracture of her ankle vertebra – and the fracture brought her down to classification. In any case, Valencia, Medina and all the members know that the hopes of the Spanish team depend on a good response from the bloc, on Home worker (Two stadiums with a capacity of 4,000 and 1,500 spectators) and a great return for the Catalan, who has been injured since May.

“I feel good and motivated, and seeing others training hard gives me motivation,” says the girl from Begur, who, from her misfortune until her return in La Cartuja, played only two matches, two at Wimbledon. . With maximum hunger, but without rhythm, it is completely anonymous. “We are ready to play and give our best, and we have the desire to give one last effort. Having Paola here is exciting,” said Medina, who is looking to shake off the bad taste that prevailed over the past two years, in which her team was unable to advance beyond the group stage in the finals. They fled to the United States two years ago, and last year there was a break-up against Great Britain at Glasgow.

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Slovenia and Czechia strike first

This Wednesday (and no earlier than 4:00 p.m., Teledeporte and RTVE Play), Spain will have the opportunity to make the first move. Opposing Canada will be young Laila Fernandez, 21 years old, who won 11 out of 14 matches she played in singles and doubles. They are completed by Rebecca Marino (176), Eugenie Bouchard (273), Marina Stakosek (258), and Gabriela Dabrowski (8 in doubles). Poland, its opponent on Friday, completes the group and regrets the absence of the recent Masters Cup champion and once again top seed, Iga Swiatek. If they succeed, on Saturday in the semifinals they will face Switzerland (defending champion), the Czech Republic (always great, with Marketa Vondrousova and Barbora Krejcikova) or the United States (without Coco Gauff, Jessica Pegula or Madison Keys).

The top teams from each block – four, with three teams each – will advance to the penultimate round, and the series will be decided in three matches, two singles and one doubles. First, on Tuesday, Slovenia defeated the tournament runner-up, Australia (2-1), and the Czech Republic defeated Switzerland (3-0). In any case, the tournament outlook – three of the top 10 teams in the world, with notable absences such as Aryna Sabalenka, Ons Jabeur and Maria Sakkari due to their teams being eliminated from the qualifying stage – is uncertain and appears to be quite open-ended.

“This competition has shown that on many occasions, the standings have been neglected, so we have to fight for every point as if it were the last,” says Medina, 41, who has been in charge since October 2017. 9.6 million dollars (8.9 euros), of which 2.4 (2.2) will be allocated to the champions, Buxa says before a historic edition in terms of prize distribution. This is a record number and, as was the case last year, equals the prize handed out in the Davis Cup. So the spirit of Billie Jean King remains intact and current. Like his shot.

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