Slovenian women tennis players make history
Slovenia have secured a spot in the semi-finals of the women's Billie Jean King Cup tournament in Seville, Spain, in what is the biggest achievement for the country in team tennis competitions to date.
Slovenia only needed to win one match and a single set against Kazakhstan on 10 November after they defeated last year's finalists Australia 2:1 on 7 November. An unofficial world championship, the tournament features the world's top 12 teams.
In the first match of the day Kaja Juvan outplayed Kazakhstani Ana Danilina 6:1 and 6:0. Tamara Zidanšek then secured Slovenia's first place in the group by winning the first set against Yulia Putintseva 6:2.
Struggling with shoulder pain, Zidanšek decided for a walkover after losing the second set 2:6.
"There was certainly some nervousness, I was aware that I can win, that I want to win ... This wasn't my best level, but it was consistent, especially compared to [Danilina], and I think I played better at the end and I'm glad I made it," the 22-year-old Juvan, the world No 104, said after the match.
In the doubles rubber Slovenia lost 1:2 in sets to wrap it up 1:2 for Kazakhstan.
Veronika Erjavec and Ela Nala Milić won the first set 6:2, but lost the second 4:6, before Ana Danilina and Zhibek Kulambayeva tackled the Slovenian pair 10:7 in the third.
Kazakhstan has been playing without its injured star player Elena Rybakina, ranked fourth in the world.
In the semi-finals on 11 November, Slovenia conceded to Italy 0:2.
Earlier in the week against Australia, Juvan beat Ajla Tomljanovic, 549th in WTA rankings, 6:4 and 6:1. The 24-year-old Zidanšek, 100th, went on to defeat Daria Saville, 206th, 6:1 and 6:4.
In the doubles, Erjavec and Nala Milić were defeated 7:5, 6:7 and 10:5 at the hands of Kimberly Birrell and Storm Hunter. The latter tops the world's doubles rankings.
Until now Slovenia never made it to the semi-finals of the BJK cup. They got the closest in 2003 when they advanced to quarter-finals and then lost against Russia.