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By Richard Pagliaro | Saturday, November 11, 2023


The last time Italy reached a Billie Jean King Cup Final, Jasmine Paolini was a face in the crowd. Today, she played a starring role in her nation's Final return.

Photo credit: Billie Jean King Cup Facebook

The last time Italy reached the Billie Jean King Cup Finals, Jasmine Paolini was a vocal face in the crowd.

Today, Paolini played a starring role in Italy's final return.

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The 30th-ranked Paolini fended off Tamara Zidansek 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 clinching Italy's semifinal triumph over Slovenia at the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in Seville, Spain.

Left-hander Martina Trevisan staked Italy to a 1-0 lead topping Kaja Juvan 7-6(6), 6-3 to set the stage for Paolini's clinching conquest in the best-of-three-match semifinal. The dead doubles rubber was not played.

Four-time champion Italy will face either 11-time champion Czech Republic or Canada in tomorrow's final.

Italy's final run comes a decade after it swept Russia, 4-0, in the 2013 final staged at the Tennis Club Cagliari.

A 17-year-old Paolini, who played on Italy's junior Billie Jean King Cup squad, was in the crowd that day watching her home heroes win Italy's fourth Billie Jean King Cup and dreaming of playing herself someday.

"I think was a dream," Paolini told the media in Sevilla. "I didn't maybe expect it, I don't know. I wasn't thinking about this, you know. But of course is a dream come true, and yeah, let's play the final tomorrow."

It's the second time this week Paolini has delivered a gritty three-set win.

Paolini fought off Caroline Garcia 7-6(6), 5-7, 6-4 on Wednesday clinching Italy's victory over France.

"I was so happy, and yeah, I was happy also because it was finished because it was a roller coaster I think today," Paolini said. "Yeah, I'm very happy for me, for my team. Yeah, I think we made an amazing job today."

Finishing the job in the final may well be a massive task if the Italians face Czech Republic, which boasts a pair of Grand Slam singles champions as well as seven-time major doubles winners Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova. Paolini is 0-1 lifetime against both Wimbledon winner Marketa Vondrousova and former Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova. Vondrousova defeated Trevisan 6-2, 6-2 in their lone prior meeting at the US Open in September.

Still, Paolini, who once led cheers for the Italians as a fan, is daring to dream big leading Italian hopes as a player in the final.  

"I know the hard work they are doing every single day. I'm pushing this one, because it's the mentality I like from them," Italian captain Tathiana Garbin said. "They have growing mentality. That's why we have to promote this mentality for the young future kids that they want to start this game.

"What they have done it's something incredible, but as we say the other day, we are not satisfied. We want always going up and try to push ourself until the limit, and we try to dream again tomorrow."


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