PRAGUE – Russia won the crucial double game on Friday, defeated the USA 2-1 and reached the final of the Billie Jean King Cup.
Veronika Kudermetova and Liudmila Samsonova defeated the American couple Shelby Rogers and Coco Vandeweghe 6: 3, 6: 3 after the teams separated in the two individual games of their semi-finals.
Russia reached its first final since 2015 in the competition formerly known as the Fed Cup.
“We feel great,” said Kudermetova.
The Russians are aiming for their fifth title.
The Russians will face Switzerland in the final on Saturday in Prague’s O2 Arena. The Swiss reached their first final since their second place in 1998 by winning both single games in straight sets and taking an unassailable 2-0 lead against Australia.
The US is the most successful nation in the competition with 18 trophies, but Russia took a 1-0 lead when Samsonova recovered from a set and beat Sloane Stephens 1-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Samsonova broke Stephens in the fifth game of the last set and again in the ninth game, converting her second match point when Stephens’ backhand went wide.
Samsonova, who also beat Stephens at this year’s Wimbledon, made her single debut for Russia and said she was “a little nervous”.
“But I was really excited about this opportunity, I’m so happy about the end,” she said.
For Stephens, it was her first competitive loss since the 2017 final, ending a streak of five wins.
“It’s a bit of a disappointment but overall I didn’t play bad and let them play better to beat me,” said Stephens.
Danielle Collins leveled the semi-finals with a hard-fought 6-7 (9), 7-6 (2), 6-2 win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
The American hit her 50th winner to convert her first match point after 2 hours and 42 minutes.
“I tried to be as resilient as possible and I tried to find my way,” said Collins.
Collins recovered from two failures in the first set before the Russian saved a set point in the tie-break and took the lead.
In the second set, the two exchanged early breaks and held their serve until Collins dominated the tiebreak.
Collins also beat Pavlyuchenkova in their only previous duel in the quarter-finals of the 2019 Australian Open.
Olympic champion Belinda Bencic secured the victory for the Swiss woman and took the second point by leaving Ajla Tomljanovic 6: 3, 6: 2 behind.
“It’s pretty incredible,” said Bencic. “I don’t think we really expected that.”
Switzerland moved from Group D, considered the toughest of the tournament, to the semi-finals, defeating both the Czech Republic and Germany along the way.
“We are so happy to be in the final,” said Bencic. “We can’t believe it yet.”
Jil Teichmann gave Switzerland a 1-0 lead by beating Storm Sanders 6-0, 6-3 and ending the game with their seventh ace.
“I played really well, I took my strokes, I played aggressively and I am very happy with my game,” said Teichmann.
The 12 teams in the tournament were divided into four groups of three in a new competition format. Only the group winners reached the semifinals.