Prague, Czech Republic, 6 November 2021 | Leigh Rogers

Switzerland has crushed Australia’s hopes of advancing to consecutive Billie Jean King Cup finals for the first time in 41 years.

After scoring impressive wins against Belgium and Belarus in Prague this week, the Australian team proved no match for an all-conquering Swiss line-up.

Switzerland’s Jil Teichmann made a sensational start for her nation in the opening singles rubber, racing to a 6-0 3-0 lead against Australian Storm Sanders.

Refusing to be overwhelmed, the 27-year-old Sanders dug deep to win her first game at the 41-minute mark. It was the start of a three-game run for the world No.131, with her fearless aggression helping change the match’s momentum.

But in the end, world No.39 Teichmann proved too strong and steadied to record a 6-0 6-3 victory.

“I tried so hard out there,” said Sanders. “I was trying to get the crowd involved and to enjoy the experience, even though I was getting absolutely smashed out there in the beginning. I just wanted to enjoy it and embrace it.”

Spotting tennis legend Billie Jean King, the event’s namesake, in the crowd provided further inspiration.

“During the match when I saw her, I kept thinking ‘pressure is a privilege’,” Sanders said, referring to King’s famous quote.

“I ran into her after the match too. It was great to have a little chat and that made me feel a little bit better.”

Belinda Bencic sealed victory for Switzerland, with the world No.17 and reigning Olympic Games gold medallist producing her sensational best to defeat Ajla Tomljanovic 6-3 6-2 in the second singles rubber.

World No.43 Tomljanovic committed only eight unforced errors in the 66-minute clash, but a confident Bencic fired 18 winners and dicated play to maintain her unbeaten record so far this week.

Switzerland, aiming to win a first Billie Jean King Cup title, now faces the Russian Tennis Federation in tomorrow’s final.

For our Australian team, there are still many reasons to feel proud of this week’s effort.

This marked only the fifth time in the past 30 years that Australia has reached the semifinals of the prestigious team competition. All five team members also competed throughout the week, with Sanders, Ellen Perez and Olivia Gadecki each rewarded for their recent improvement with playing debuts.

To qualify for the 12-nation Billie Jean King Cup Finals again in 2022, Australia will need to win a home-and-away qualifying tie in April next year. The draw, which will determine who and where Australia plays, is announced tomorrow.

Billie Jean King Cup, semifinals

Jil Teichmann (SUI) d Storm Sanders (AUS) 6-0 6-3
Belinda Bencic (SUI) d Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-3 6-2