Tennis: Japan advances to the Billie Jean King Cup finals without Osaka

AP , Saturday 13 Apr 2024

Japan has advanced to the Billie Jean King Cup finals without Naomi Osaka needing to play a second singles match.

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka of Japan returns a shot against Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan during their Billie Jean King Cup tennis match in Tokyo, Friday, April 12, 2024. AP

With Japan leading 2-0 after the opening day of singles play on Friday at Tokyo, Nao Hibino beat Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7) to clinch the match for the home side on Saturday and advance Japan to the Cup finals in November in Seville, Spain.

On Friday, Osaka hit 15 aces with a 6-2, 7-6 (5) win over Putintseva. It was the four-time Grand Slam champion’s first match in the team competition since February 2020.

Osaka’s later singles match against Anna Danilina, who Hibino beat on Friday, was not played.

Australia also advanced to the Seville finals earlier Saturday with a 3-0 win over Mexico.

A total of 16 nations are involved in the qualifiers. Eight teams will join defending champion Canada, 2023 runner-up Italy, host Spain and wild-card selection Czech Republic in the 12-country Finals field.

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