Naomi Osaka, Iga Swiatek and Emma Raducanu pick up victories in the Billie Jean King Cup


LONDON — Grand Slam title winners Naomi Osaka, Iga Swiatek and Emma Raducanu all earned victories for their countries 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 12-team 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 Finals field.

In other action Friday, No. 1-ranked Swiatek and Poland went ahead 2-0 at Switzerland, 2021 U.S. Open champion Raducanu helped Britain finished Day 1 tied 1-1 at France, host Australia took a 2-0 lead over Mexico, and Slovakia was up 2-0 against visiting Slovenia.

The other matchups are: Belgium at the United States in Orlando; Ukraine against Romania at Amelia Island, Florida; and Germany at Brazil.

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 red clay court. That pulled Britain even after France’s Diane Parry defeated Katie Boulter 6-2, 6-0.

In Brisbane, where 2011 U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur is Australia’s captain for the first time, Arina Rodionova beat Mexico’s Giuliana Olmos 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, and Daria Saville defeated Marcela Zacarias 6-1, 6-0 for the hosts on an outdoor hard court. Australia, the runner-up twice in the last five years, is seeking its first title since 1974.

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.

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AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis



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