Tennis: Swiatek leads Poland to the Billie Jean King Cup Finals, Australia and Slovakia win

AP , Saturday 13 Apr 2024

No. 1-ranked Iga Swiatek clinched a berth for Poland in the Billie Jean King Cup Finals by defeating Switzerland’s Celine Naef 6-4, 6-3 on Saturday to take an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the best-of-five-match qualifying round.

Iga Swiatek
Poland s Iga Swiatek returns the ball to Switzerland s Simona Waltert during the Billie Jean King Cup qualification round tennis match at the Jan Group Arena in Biel, Switzerland, on Friday, April 12, 2024. AP

Swiatek — who has claimed Grand Slam titles at the French Open and one at the U.S. Open — also won her opening singles match on an indoor hard court at Biel, Switzerland, on Friday.

Japan, Australia and Slovakia were among the countries that advanced Saturday to the Finals, which will be held in Seville, Spain, in November.

Japan went ahead 3-0 over Kazakhstan without needing four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka to play a second match on an indoor hard court in Tokyo. That’s because Nao Hibino beat Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7) on Saturday, after Osaka’s win against Putintseva on Friday helped the hosts go up 2-0.

Slovakia moved into the Finals when 16-year-old Renata Jamrichova defeated Veronika Erjavec 6-2, 6-0 on an indoor hard court in Bratislava to give the hosts a 3-0 edge over visiting Slovenia.

Australia went up 3-0 over Mexico on an outdoor hard court in Brisbane thanks to Taylah Preston’s 6-1, 6-1 victory over Marcela Zacarias.

The eight winners in qualifying will join defending champion Canada, 2023 runner-up Italy, host Spain and wild-card selection Czech Republic in the 12-country Finals field.

Heading into Saturday, 2021 U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu and Britain were tied 1-1 with France, the United States led Belgium 2-0, Ukraine led Romania 2-0, and Germany was ahead of Brazil 2-0.

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