Naomi Osaka, Iga Swiatek and Emma Raducanu earn wins in the Billie Jean King Cup. Australia advances

LONDON (AP) — Grand Slam title winners Naomi Osaka, Iga Swiatek and Emma Raducanu all won in Billie Jean King Cup qualifying Friday.

Osaka hit 15 aces and put Japan a step away from reaching the BJK Cup Finals with a 6-2, 7-6 (5) win over Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva. It was the four-time Grand Slam champion’s first match in the team competition since February 2020.

Osaka, back on tour after becoming a mother last July, saved all three break points she faced and compiled a 31-16 edge in winners. Her win on an indoor hard court in Tokyo followed Nao Hibino’s 6-1, 6-0 victory over Anna Danilina and gave Japan a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five-match qualifying round.

Two other singles matches and one in doubles are scheduled for Saturday.

A total of 16 nations are involved in qualifiers Friday and Saturday, with the winners advancing to the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in Seville, Spain, in November. Those 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.

The first team to move out of the qualifying round was Australia, which eliminated Mexico in Brisbane early Saturday, when Taylah Preston easily won 6-1, 6-1 over Marcela Zacarias to make the overall score 3-0. With 2011 U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur serving as Australia’s captain for the first time, Arina Rodionova beat Mexico’s Giuliana Olmos 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, and Daria Saville defeated Zacarias 6-1, 6-0 for the hosts on an outdoor hard court Friday. Australia, the runner-up twice in the last five years, is seeking its first title since 1974.

In other action, No. 1-ranked Swiatek and Poland went ahead 2-0 at Switzerland, 2021 U.S. Open champion Raducanu helped Britain finish Day 1 tied 1-1 at France, the United States led Belgium 2-0, Ukraine won both matches against Romania, Germany was ahead of host Brazil 2-0, host Australia took a 2-0 lead over Mexico, and Slovakia was up 2-0 against visiting Slovenia.

In Orlando, on an outdoor hard court, Jessica Pegula and Emma Navarro both turned around deficits to beat 19-year-old Belgian opponents as the Americans got off to a 2-0 start in Lindsay Davenport’s debut as the U.S. captain. Pegula escaped with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory against Sofia Costoulas, before Navarro topped Hanne Vandewinkel 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

In Amelia Island, Florida — where Ukraine chose to play these matches because of its war with Russia back home — Elina Svitolina was a 6-3, 7-5 winner over Romania’s Jaqueline Adina Cristian on an outdoor clay court, and Lesia Tsurenko beat Ana Bogdan 3-6, 6-2, 6-0.

In Biel, Switzerland, Swiatek — who has won three championships at the French Open and one at the U.S. Open — broke Simona Waltert five times on an indoor hard court to win 6-3, 6-1, before Magdalena Frech came back to beat Celine Naef 6-7 (8), 7-5, 6-3.

In Le Portel, France, Raducanu was a set and a break down but reeled off 12 of the next 15 games to get past Caroline Garcia 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 on an indoor clay court. That pulled Britain even after France’s Diane Parry defeated Katie Boulter 6-2, 6-0.

In Sao Paulo, Germany’s Laura Siegemund defeated Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-4, 6-2, and Tatjana Maria got past Laura Pigossi 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 on an indoor clay court.

In Bratislava on an indoor hard court, Anna Karolina Schmiedlova topped Ela Nala Milic 6-4, 6-3, and Viktoria Hruncakova won 6-1, 5-7, 6-3 against Veronika Erjaveck.


AP tennis:

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