France will have no lasting memories of this final phase of the Billie Jean King Cup in Seville. After their failure against Italy on Wednesday, captain Julien Benneteau’s players faced Germany on Friday in a no-stakes encounter as the two countries were eliminated from the race for the semi-finals. Represented by Clara Burel and Varvara Gracheva in singles, the French women won in an unusual, if not baroque, scenario: the former dominated Jule Niemeier 6-4, 6-3, while the former Russian player, who naturalized last May became a victim of an abdominal injury, only played (and lost) three matches before seeing her opponent Tatjana Maria retire. In the doubles, the Garcia-Mladenovic duo then defeated the Niemeier-Siegemund tandem (5-7, 6-3, 10-1).
Burel “wanted to do it well”
In the opening singles between the numbers 2, we will remember the proud reaction of Burel (61st in the world) after being broken and led 4-2 by an opponent who on paper was clearly within his reach (162nd). Niemeier, victim of a crisis of double faults (15 in total), has admittedly made his task enormously easier. But the Rennaise, Angevine by adoption, managed to keep her place. “It’s not easy to start a match without commitment and without rhythmshe said. Even though it was friendly, I wanted to do it right, for this blue jersey and the bench that grew behind me. »
Once she had the first set in hand, all she had to do was show her elegant tennis, allowing her to end the season on her best ranking, suggesting her upward ambitions for next season. “Being placed in the Grand Slam would be a great goal”says Burel, who is working on setting up a new training structure at the end of this year.
This first point should make Gracheva’s task easier for his big debut in the blue jersey. The day before, Benneteau had emphasized how important this meeting was to prepare for the future, which could be written with the 44th player in the world. But he was certainly hoping for more than three unfortunate games to familiarize her with his chair speech and get her used to this new working environment, she who had never played under her old colors in the Billie Jean King Cup.
“A little tension” for Gracheva
Unfortunately, after seven unforced errors in 17 points, which betrayed a logical nervousness, Gracheva saw her opponent give her a hand when changing sides at 3-0 in her favor, victim of an abdominal injury. “Of course there was some tension when entering the field, but that is normalshe admitted. At first I experienced this as a tennis match, with a task and a routine to follow. I started to feel more comfortable when Tatjana stopped. It’s frustrating, but mostly I’m disappointed for her. She deserved better than this difficult situation. Nobody expected that. »
Now perfectly integrated within the group – “Everyone made me feel so comfortable that I felt at home”she emphasizes – Gracheva plans to repeat the experience in the future, including during the Olympic Games in Paris next year. “Everything will depend on my results and the captain’s decision. she says. If I play well, maybe he will renew his confidence in me, otherwise another player will replace me. I never thought I would ever be able to compete in the Olympics, so of course I would love to participate. But it’s like the BJK Cup, it’s not me who decides, it’s my results. I know what to do. »