Netherlands will face Great Britain in Friday’s women’s World Group final at the 2013 BNP Paribas World Team Cup after respective wins over Japan and Germany in Thursday’s semifinals in Antalya, Turkey.
Meanwhile, Saturday’s men’s World Group semifinals will see top seed Netherlands face third seed Japan, despite Japan’s world No. 1 Shingo Kunieda being beaten for the first time by Argentina’s Gustavo Fernandez.
Defending champion France will take on Sweden in the other semifinal after Sweden defeated fourth seed Great Britain in a thrilling finale to their round-robin group.
Netherlands and Great Britain into women’s World Group final
Top seed Netherlands will bid for its 26th women’s World Group title at the World Team Cup after a 3-0 win over fourth seed Japan in a rematch of the 2010 and 2012 finals.
Jiske Griffioen raced into a commanding lead in the opening singles rubber against Miho Nijo and the Dutchwoman, who has moved up one place to No. 2 in this week’s world rankings, dominated the closing stage of the second set to put Netherlands ahead.
Griffioen and Aniek van Koot were both members of the Dutch team that won the title in Antalya in 2010 and van Koot kept the defending champion on course for possibly another title after a three set win over Japan’s talented world No. 11 Yui Kamiji.
Kamiji was the first player to beat van Koot after the Dutch player’s ascendency to the world No. 1 ranking at the end of January, when they met in Pensacola in March. But van Koot showed her determination to not let the same thing happen as she raced through the first set in the second singles rubber. However, Kamiji held on to win a second set tiebreak, only for van Koot to regroup for the final set to clinch a 61 67(2) 64 victory.
“The first set was good from my side,” said van Koot. “I did what I liked to do and really enjoyed it, but I lost a bit of my focus in the second set and you can’t afford to do that against someone like Yui and she stepped up her game quite a bit.
"Somehow in the third set I managed to get through, I managed to get myself together. I don’t know how I did it, but I had Hans Jurgen, our coach, on court and he said to me afterwards that for my mentality today I got an eight plus, so I’m happy with that.”
Third seed Great Britain upset second seed Germany in the other semifinal, which was a rematch of last year’s bronze medal play-off.
As she did in 2012 in Seoul, Jordanne Whiley beat Katharina Kruger in the first singles rubber, coming through a tense contest 46 63 64, but Lucy Shuker was unable to repeat her 2012 BNP World Team Cup win over Sabine Ellerbrock and Ellerbrock powered to a 63 61 win to set up a deciding doubles contest.
London 2012 women’s doubles bronze medallists Shuker and Whiley controlled the doubles from the outset, putting up a polished performance through to the end and clinched the 2-1 semifinal win with a 61 62 victory. Great Britain is now into its second women’s World Group final, after finishing runner-up to Netherlands on home soil in Great Britain in 2009.
“Jordanne played an outstanding singles match and hustled really well, as that’s probably the best I’ve seen Katharina play,” said Shuker. “I had a great start to my singles match and went 3-0 up, but then I started to struggle on the clay court, was bit late on the balls and wasn’t quite getting the contact right. After my singles I had time to regroup and that’s one of the best doubles matches we’ve ever played together. We just used the whole court really well.”
Sweden beat Great Britain and Fernandez upsets Kunieda
After winning its second men’s World Group title in Antalya in 2010, Sweden pulled off another big result at Club Ali Bey Manavgat as London 2012 Paralympic men’s doubles gold medallists Stefan Olsson and Peter Vikstrom secured their country a place in this year’s semifinals after a thrilling win over fourth seed Great Britain.
Great Britain last reached the semifinals in Antalya in 2010, but despite world No. 7 Olsson losing the second singles rubber of Sweden’s last round-robin tie to world No. 6 Gordon Reid 60 61, Britain was unable to repeat the feat.
Marc McCarroll and Reid had three match points as the tie came down to a deciding doubles rubber, two at 6-5 up in the second set and one at 9-8 in the championship tiebreak, but Olsson and Vikstrom kept their composure to wrap up a 36 76(2) [11-9] victory.
Third seed Japan also had to win their last group match in a deciding doubles rubber after world No. 4 Gustavo Fernandez stunned world No. 1 Shingo Kunieda.
It’s almost a year since Fernandez really marked himself as a rising star when beating three of the world’s top four players to win the Japan Open. On that occasion the only one of the top four that he didn’t beat was Kunieda, but the Argentinian added the world No. 1 to his list of major scalps with a 75 46 63 victory.
“I’m very happy, it was a good match and good tennis from me,” said Fernandez, but after holding Japan in the first six games of the deciding doubles rubber Oscar Dias and Fernandez eventually succumbed. After Takuya Miki had given Japan an early lead, Takashi Sanada partnered Kunieda to 63 62 win in the doubles, earning Japan a 2-1 win and a semifinal against defending champion France.
Second seed France had few problems in securing a 3-0 win over former World Group finalist Poland, world No. 2 Stephane Houdet putting the tie beyond doubt after beating Tadeusz Kruszelnicki 62 60.
“It’s very nice to be in the semifinals and after twice going through 3-0 in the last two days we know the competition is going to get a lot tougher for the semifinals on Saturday,” said Houdet. “We now have a day of rest and will focus on our recovery and watch some matches. It was very nice today to catch some of Great Britain and Sweden and Argentina against Japan.”
Top seed Netherlands will play Sweden in Saturday’s semifinals, a contest that will be a rematch of the 2010 final in Antalya. Ronald Vink faced a tremendous challenge from Thomas Mossier in the first singles rubber as Netherlands beat Austria 3-0. Vink eventually dominated the final set against Mossier for a 64 67(6) 61 win, with Maikel Scheffers giving the Dutch an unassailable lead after beating Martin Legner 60 63.