gallant comeback by Ukraine ultimately ended in disappointment for the team representing the war-torn nation as the United States won the deciding doubles rubber at a Billie Jean King Cup qualifier on Saturday.
A day that started with an American victory seemingly a fait accompli after the hosts had taken a 2-0 lead on Friday turned into a tense afternoon in North Carolina when both singles matches were won by the underdogs.
Buoyed by an enthusiastic section of Ukrainian fans who turned the tie almost into a home game at times at the indoor arena in Asheville, Dayana Yastremska and Katarina Zavatska won their respective matches 6-3 6-4 over higher-ranked opponents.
After world 93 Yastremska beat 14th-ranked Jessica Pegula to keep the tie alive, an inspired 201st-ranked Zavatska toppled Shelby Rogers in another upset.
“It’s amazing. I felt all the stadium was more with me, even though we are in the USA,” said Zavatska.
“I was in the zone completely. Today I was really into it so much, every point, fighting like crazy. I just had all the energy from the crowd supporting me.
“It’s super nice being in a safe place here.”
But Zavatska could only watch helplessly as Yastremska and Lyudmyla Kichenok fell to Pegula and Asia Muhammad 7-6(5) 6-3 in the doubles decider.
A double-fault by Kichenok that decided the first set tiebreak proved pivotal.
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The United States breezed through the second set and advanced to the finals in November.
“That was a really tough match, especially the first set, we were having some crazy points and lot of ups and downs,” said Pegula.
Added U.S. captain Rinaldi: “Congratulations to Ukraine, but (my players) brought it in the doubles and closed it out.” reuters