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Few stars, COVID scare at Billie Jean King Cup

Billie Jean King Cup
Billie Jean King Cup logo (Photo: from Billie Jean King Cup Instagram account)
PRAGUE — Barbora Krejcikova and Belinda Bencic are the only top 10 players featuring in the maiden Billie Jean King Cup final tournament due to start amid tight COVID restrictions in Prague on Monday.اضافة اعلان

The season-ending team tournament will be held on indoor hard courts at the O2 Arena in the Czech capital, with the final scheduled for November 6.
As the host city, Prague has replaced Budapest which was due to stage the rebranded Fed Cup in April 2020 before it was twice postponed over the COVID-19 pandemic.

The finals of the competition will be played in a tournament format for the first time since 2001.

The 12 teams are divided into four groups of three teams with the winners qualifying for Friday’s semi-finals.

“I definitely preferred the old system with only two teams facing each other,” Krejcikova told reporters on Saturday.

World number four Krejcikova, this year’s French Open champion, is the highest-ranked player at the tournament shunned by the likes of Ashleigh Barty, Aryna Sabalenka, and Garbine Muguruza.

Krejcikova will spearhead the hosts Czech Republic, who have won six of the last nine editions of the Fed Cup but will have to do without third-ranked Karolina Pliskova and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova this year.
“We’ll see how we will cope with the new conditions, I believe we will do well and follow that fantastic era we had earlier,” Krejcikova said.

Spain captain Anabel Medina Garrigues said the new tournament format was “a big challenge”.

“You know you have to play with all your energy and all your power in every match because every point counts,” she added.

‘Lot of respect’ 

France, who won the last edition of the Fed Cup in 2019, will take on Russia and Canada in Group A, while Group B will pit 2019 runners-up Australia against Belarus and Belgium.

“It’s been long, it feels like so much more than two years actually because so many things have happened and also the competition has changed,” said France’s Caroline Garcia.

In Group C, the US will take on Slovakia and Spain.

In Group D, the Czechs will take on Germany with former world number one Angelique Kerber and Switzerland, led by Olympic champion Bencic.
The players are once again confined to COVID bubbles allowing them only to travel between their hotel and the arena.

Fans must offer a proof of vaccination or a negative test or a proof of having recovered from COVID-19 and wear face masks inside the O2 Arena.
The Czech Republic, which topped global statistics for COVID-19 infections and deaths per capita earlier this year.

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