Japan, Brazil, Romania and Slovakia seal spot in 2024 Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers11/11/2023 18:29
Four nations – Japan, Brazil, Romania and Slovakia – booked their spot in the 2024 Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers after winning their Play-off ties on Saturday
By Kevin Palmer
The Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge Play-offs are underway and four nations have booked their spots in next April's Qualifiers.
This weekend's eight ties consist of best-of-five matches, with four singles followed by doubles and all ties played over two days.
Four Play-off ties concluded on Saturday, with the final matches set to be decided on Sunday. Here’s a summary of the action so far:
JAPAN SEAL THRILLING WIN
It was all to play for in Tokyo after the opening day ended with the score at 1-1 between Japan and Colombia and this tie needed a decisive doubles match to find a winner.
Camila Osorio got Colombia off to a flying start by winning her match against Nao Hibino 6-2 6-0 in just 57 minutes, with Mai Hontama responding for the home side as she beat Maria Herazo Gonzalez 6-2 6-2.
It came down to a doubles shoot-out to decide the tie, with the home side holding their nerve as Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara beat the Colombian duo of Osorio and Yuliana Lizarazo 7-5 6-2.
HADDAD MAIA SHOWS HER CLASS
Brazil's Beatriz Haddad Maia is the highest-ranked player competing in this weekend's Billie Jean King Cup Play-offs and the world No. 11 highlighted her class by easing her nation to victory against Korea, Rep. in Brasilia.
With the home side in control of the tie after winning both singles matches on the opening day, Haddad Maia wasted little time in wrapping up a Brazilian victory as she beat Sohyun Park 6-2 6-1 in an hour and six minutes.
"It's very special to play at home," said Haddad Maia, as quoted by Correio Braziliense. "Travelling a lot around the world it is very difficult to feel at home, but it is very special to receive your energy, not only for me, but for everyone who is here. I hope we can bring a lot of joy to you."
ROMANIA AND SLOVAKIA MARCH ON
Romania's dominant performance against Serbia in Kraljevo continued on Saturday, as a three-set win for Jaqueline Cristian wrapped up the tie for the visitors.
With Romania leading 2-0 after the opening day, the home fans were given hope when Lola Radivojevic fought back after losing the first set against Cristian, but the decisive set was won by the visiting player as she sealed a 7-5 4-6 7-5 win to ensure Romania will play in the Qualifiers for a third successive year.
In Bratislava, Slovakia's world No. 610 Renata Jamrichova was the toast of the home fans as she claimed a stunning victory against Argentina's world No. 78 Nadia Podoroska.
Jamrichova's 6-4 6-1 win gave Viktoria Hruncakova a chance to wrap up the tie and she duly delivered with 3-6 6-4 6-4 victory to send Slovakia into the Qualifiers.
SHOCK DEFEAT FOR BURRAGE
Great Britain's Jodie Burrage has broken into the top 100 of the WTA rankings this year, but she lost her way after a fast start against Sweden's Kajsa Rinaldo Persson in front of a sell-out crowd in London.
Burrage's unforced error count reached 31 as she lost 6-4 6-1 against a consistent Persson, who saluted an impressive win.
"It's super special and it's always an honour to play for my country and this is one of the biggest wins of my career," said a delighted Persson.
Katie Boulter provided the perfect response for Great Britain as she beat Caijsa Hennemann 6-2 6-1 to leave the tie perfectly poised ahead of Sunday's deciding matches.
"The support from the crowd was something special," said Boulter. "I hope a lot of the people are coming back tomorrow. It's going to be key for us. This tie is really important. We want to get back to where we believe we belong."
ALL TO PLAY FOR ON SUNDAY
Ukraine and the Netherlands will resume their tie in Lithuania on Sunday with all to play for, after a tense first day saw both teams claim singles wins.
World No. 27 Anhelina Kalinina overpowered Suzan Lamens from the Netherlands as she wrapped up a 6-2 6-3 win, but the Ukraine's Dayana Yastremska could not deliver a second singles win as she lost 6-3 6-2 against Arantxa Rus.
It was equally tight in Austria, as the home side head into day two of their tie against Mexico tied at 1-1, with Belgium and Hungary also level after sharing the singles matches on day one of their tie in Charleroi.