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US hangs on to beat Ukraine 3-2 in Billie Jean King Cup

April 16, 2022 GMT

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Asia Muhammad and Jessica Pegula beat Lyudmyla Kichenok and Dayana Yastremska 7-6 (5), 6-3 in doubles play Saturday to give the United States a 3-2 victory over Ukraine in a Billie Jean King Cup qualifier.

The Americans secured a spot in the Cup finals in November at a site to be determined.

Ukraine was hoping to become only the eighth country in Billie Jean King Cup history to recover from a 2-0 deficit and win after taking the first two singles matches on Saturday to even things up.

But the Americans rallied to win the first set of the doubles match after Ukraine double-faulted on set point. Muhammad’s serving was a key for the Americans throughout the match.

Ukraine entered the day down 2-0 after singles wins by Pegula and Alison Riske on Friday, but the tables quickly turned in the reverse singles on Saturday as Yastremska beat Pegula 6-3, 6-4 to keep Ukraine’s hopes alive.

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“I just relaxed and thought it’s going to be like it’s going to be,” Yastremska said. “I just went there being focusing on every point. I think that’s how it happened. Nothing special.”

Said Pegula: “She came out firing there for a bit. It was really tough to find my rhythm. I thought she played great. I thought she was just really going after her shots kind of with nothing to lose. Most of them were going in.”

The momentum from Yastremska’s win seemed to carry over to the second match as Katarina Zavatska upended Shelby Rogers 6-3, 6-4 for her first career win against a top-50 player. United Stated team captain Kathy Rinaldi made a curious substitution before the match, inserting Rogers for Riske, one day after Riske posted a dominant 6-2, 6-1 win over Zavatska.

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