Jessica Pegula powers U.S. past Belgium to Billie Jean King Cup finals


The United States earned a berth in the Billie Jean King Cup final rounds Saturday, as Jessica Pegula and pairs Caroline Dolehide and Taylor Townsend powered their country to a 4-0 victory over Belgium at the Billie Jean King Cup qualifying series at Orlando.

“I love being in a clinch position,” Pegula said. “I love being able to get that win. That can also be a lot of pressure. At the same time, I try to embrace it the most that I can.”

The Americans capitalized on a 2-0 lead from the previous day, when world No. 5 Pegula and Emma Navarro each earned wins. On Saturday, Pegula defeated Hanne Vandewinkel 6-2, 6-0 and then Dolehide and Townsend defeated Belgium’s pair of Marie Benoit and Kimberley Zimmermann 6-3, 6-1.

“Being able to watch most of (Vandewinkel’s) match yesterday, obviously I feel like it prepped me visually being on the court, getting used to seeing her ball, how she plays, what she likes to go for,” Pegula said. “I had a good idea of how to play. Luckily, I was just kind of feeling it today, too. It made everything a lot easier.”

Down the coast in Fernandina Beach, Fla., the most competitive matchup of the day unfolded between Romania and Ukraine, with Romania completing a comeback from down 2-0 to advance with a 3-2 win.

Ana Bogdan started the rally with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Elina Svitolina, then Jaqueline Adina Cristian downed Lesia Tsurenko 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. Bogdan and Cristian completed the comeback by defeating the Ukrainian pair of Lyudmyla and Nadiia Kichenok.

Two other countries joined the U.S. in earning sweeps on Saturday. Poland defeated Switzerland 4-0 in Biel, Switzerland, and Slovakia defended its home turf in Bratislava with a 4-0 win over Slovenia.

World No. 1 Iga Swiatek coasted past Celine Naef 6-4, 6-3 to help propel Poland.

In other action, Great Britain defeated France 3-1 in Le Portel, Japan defeated Kazakhstan 3-1 in Tokyo and Germany beat Brazil 3-1 in Sao Paulo.

The seven qualifiers Saturday joined Australia, which became the first team to advance out of qualifying Friday, as well as reigning champion Canada, 2023 runner-up Italy, host Spain and wild-card nation Czech Republic.

The eight qualifying series were held this weekend around the world. Each best-of-five series consisted of two singles matches on Friday, then two reverse singles matches and a doubles match on Saturday.

The event’s final rounds will be held in November at Seville, Spain.