Glasgow, Scotland, 9 November 2022 | Leigh Rogers

Australia has made a winning start at the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup Finals.

Storm Sanders and Ajla Tomljanovic both scored singles victories to help Australia overcome Slovakia 2-1 in the opening round-robin tie at Emirates Arena in Glasgow.

“To go out and deliver for Australia today felt really special,” said Sanders after posting a 6-4 6-3 win against Slovakia’s Viktoria Kuzmova.

This improves Sanders’ career record in Billie Jean King Cup singles matches to 3-1.

“Playing in this environment I think brings out the best in me,” said the 28-year-old.

“They are honestly my favourite weeks of the year. We have such a great team. We have such great team chemistry. Not just the players but the staff as well. We have a lot of fun. That’s the most important thing.”

Tomljanovic then scored a commanding 6-1 6-2 victory against Slovakia’s Anna Karolina Schmiedlova to seal the tie for Australia.

“I thought her level was high for the scoreline. I just think I played the bigger points a little bit better,” said Tomljanovic.

Australia’s top-ranked woman agreed with Sanders that a strong team spirit provided added inspiration.

“We have such a good team spirit,” Tomljanovic said. “In our country, we love sport. We love camaraderie, team events. I think a lot of our players thrive in this environment. That kind of makes you want it even more when you’re part of a squad like that.”

Slovakia fought back to claim the doubles rubber in a tight three-set encounter, with Kuzmova and Tereza Mihalikova edging out Sanders and Ellen Perez 2-6 6-3 [10-6].

“We played a really good first set and they kind of picked up their level, kind of started swinging, serving really well,” conceded Sanders.

With today’s victory, Australia moves to the top of Group B and is now in a strong position to qualify for a third consecutive semifinal – which has Australian captain Alicia Molik feeling proud.

“No question our expectations were high today, and we were shooting for the 3-0 win, but real credit to them,” Molik said.

“In the doubles I feel like their pair were really swinging free, and they were really confident because they had nothing to lose. But from our perspective, it’s (still) a great day.”

Australia faces Belgium in its final round-robin tie on Thursday. Play begins at 9pm AEDT and is broadcast live in Australia on the Nine Network.

The Australian team is aiming to finish atop of Group B to advance to the knockout semifinals on Saturday.

Billie Jean King Cup Finals – results


Storm Sanders (AUS) d Viktoria Kuzmova (SVK) 6-4 6-3
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) d Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) 6-1 6-2
Storm Sanders/Ellen Perez (AUS) lost to Viktoria Kuzmova/Tereza Mihalikova (SVK) 6-2 3-6 [6-10]

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