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Kasatkina, Samsonova lead Russia to 5th Billie Jean King Cup title
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Players of Team Russia celebrate on the podium after winning the Billie Jean King Cup title in Prague, Czech Republic, November 6, 2021. /CFP

Players of Team Russia celebrate on the podium after winning the Billie Jean King Cup title in Prague, Czech Republic, November 6, 2021. /CFP

Russia claimed their fifth Billie Jean King Cup title on Saturday after Daria Kasatkina and Liudmila Samsonova handed them an unbeatable 2-0 lead over Switzerland.

After Kasatkina had romped to a 6-2 6-4 win over Jil Teichmann, Samsonova held her nerve despite being a late replacement for the injured Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to defeat Belinda Bencic 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 and secure Russia their first title since 2008 in the women's team competition.

Samsonova raised her arms in victory and was embraced by her teammates, while American great Billie Jean King watched on from the stands.

"It is unbelievable. It was an incredible fight," an emotional Samsonova said on court.

Liudmila Samsonova of Russia reacts to a game win during the Billie Jean King Cup title in Prague, Czech Republic, November 6, 2021. /CFP

Liudmila Samsonova of Russia reacts to a game win during the Billie Jean King Cup title in Prague, Czech Republic, November 6, 2021. /CFP

The win capped an impressive week for the five-member Russian squad, who were all ranked in the top 40.

Even when they were unable to field their top player on Saturday, world No. 12 Pavlyuchenkova, the Russians did not lose their focus.

Kasatkina, playing only her second match of the week, got the Russians off to a strong start by breaking Teichmann's serve in the first game and never looked back.

"The mentality was the key," the 24-year-old Russian said. "I was tough from the beginning to the end."

Daria Kasatkina of Russia celebrates after winning against Jil Teichmann of Switzerland (not pictured) during their match of the Billie Jean King Cup finals between Russia and Switzerland at the O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic, November 6, 2021. /CFP

Daria Kasatkina of Russia celebrates after winning against Jil Teichmann of Switzerland (not pictured) during their match of the Billie Jean King Cup finals between Russia and Switzerland at the O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic, November 6, 2021. /CFP

In the second rubber, Bencic and world No. 40 Samsonova split the first two sets. In the decider, the Russian saved a break point midway through the set with an ace en route to taking a 4-2 lead.

Bencic, seeking to give Switzerland a first title, never got another chance to break as Samsonova sealed the win.

"The team are amazing. They achieved this because they are a team," Russian captain Igor Andreev said.

With many top names opting to skip the competition this year in order to focus on upcoming season-ending Women's Tennis Association Finals, the International Tennis Federation said on Saturday that next year's event would take place a week later.

Source(s): Reuters

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