Osaka, Swiatek win; Raducanu upsets Garcia on Day 1 of BJK Cup Qualifiers

Three Grand Slam champions scored notable victories on Day 1 of the Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers, with Naomi Osaka and Iga Swiatek both giving their countries early leads and Emma Raducanu notching a milestone win on clay.

The winners of this weekend’s eight Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers ties will advance to November’s Billie Jean King Cup Finals in Seville.

Osaka spearheads Japanese charge on home soil

Former World No.1 Osaka made a victorious return to Billie Jean King Cup action on Friday, defeating Yulia Putintseva 6-2, 7-6(5) in Tokyo to give Japan an early 2-0 lead over Kazakhstan.

Earlier, No.79-ranked Nao Hibino had kicked off the hosts’ campaign with a 6-1, 6-0 rout of Anna Danilina in just 57 minutes.

Osaka improved her overall Billie Jean King Cup record to 6-2 with an impressive display against an opponent she has previously struggled with. She lost her first three encounters with Putintseva in 2018-19, but has now scored two consecutive wins against the Kazakhstani, both on home soil.

After a dominant opening set, Osaka held her nerve in a tightly-contested second set that went down to the wire, converting her first match point with a pinpoint backhand winner down the line.

Currently ranked No.193 after returning from maternity leave in January, Osaka was making her first Billie Jean King Cup appearance since February 2020.

Raducanu comeback draws Great Britain level with France

With France hosting Great Britain on clay in Le Portel, the three-time champions started the tie with a significant home advantage. This was borne out across the first match and a half.

Diane Parry turned in a polished performance to demolish Katie Boulter 6-2, 6-0, winning 12 straight games from 2-0 down. No.49-ranked Parry, who cracked the Top 50 for the first time this week, used her variety and courtcraft effectively to expose her opponent’s inexperience on the surface. Boulter has yet to play a tour-level match on clay.

However, former US Open champion Raducanu pulled off a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 comeback from a set and a break down against Caroline Garcia to level the tie. Though the Briton went toe-to-toe with Garcia from the baseline in the first set, it was her improved ability to read the Frenchwoman’s serve that was key to the turnaround.

Raducanu won just three points against the Garcia first serve in the first set, but over half of those in the second. In the decider, Garcia’s first serve percentage plummeted to 38%, and Raducanu took full advantage by repeatedly teeing off on her second serve for clean winners. In total, the 21-year-old tallied 25 winners — including 16 off the forehand side — to only 11 unforced errors.

The result was Raducanu’s first Top 30 win since defeating Beatriz Haddad Maia at Indian Wells 2023, and the first Top 30 win of her career on clay.

Swiatek, Frech put Poland up on Switzerland

Switzerland, the 2022 champions, also had a home-court advantage, hosting Poland on the indoor hard courts…

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Read More: Osaka, Swiatek win; Raducanu upsets Garcia on Day 1 of BJK Cup Qualifiers 2024-04-13 04:14:08

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