Home Australia Australia takes control of Billie Jean King Cup tie against Mexico

Australia takes control of Billie Jean King Cup tie against Mexico

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Injured Australian tennis player Storm Hunter smiles and gives a thumbs up as she sits courtside in Brisbane.

Arina Rodionova has had to overcome some team tennis nerves, but Daria Saville had no such problem as the pair put Australia on the cusp of a return to the Billie Jean King Cup final. The hosts lead Mexico 2-0 after Friday’s singles at Brisbane’s Pat Rafter Arena.

Rodionova beat Giuliana Olmos 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 in just over two hours before Saville defeated world number 562 Marcela Zacarias 6-1, 6-0 in 51 minutes.

They need only a win in singles or doubles on Saturday to book a place in the finals of November’s 12-team tournament as Australia, runners-up twice in the last five years, chase their first title since 1974.

Olmos, recent world number six in doubles and veteran of 24 Cup qualifiers, is the only Mexican woman who is in the top 10 or has won a WTA Tour event in singles or doubles.

She had the better of a nervous Rodionova, playing in her first tie since her debut in 2016, in a dominant first set and had a break point at 3-3 in the second.

But the 34-year-old held serve, saving six of eight break points throughout the match, and then pounced to break serve for the first time on her ninth attempt.

He won the next eight games, his only flaw being 5-0 in the third while serving for the match.

“Everyone knows that if you look at the rankings, we’re supposed to win. But that’s very dangerous,” said the Russian-born talent.

“I kept waiting, fighting and hoping he would get back to the level he normally plays in singles.

“You can play tennis for 20 years…then go out and play for something bigger than yourself and think, ‘Which way do I hold my racket?’

“It took me a few games to relax and remember that it’s still the same game, but mentally it’s a lot different.”

Storm Hunter was on hand to cheer on her Australian teammates after injuring her Achilles tendon in training. (AAP: Darren England)

The victory, behind Rodionova’s 25 winners to Olmos’ 13, was a sweet relief after a horrific injury suffered by Australia’s number two Storm Hunter in practice on Thursday.

The Queenslander ruptured her right Achilles tendon, the injury ruling her out of the Olympics and likely the rest of this year’s WTA Tour.

Saville, the former world number 20 who re-entered the top 100 earlier this week, replaced Hunter and took advantage of the call-up to improve her Cup singles record to 5-7.

“I thought I played pretty well… I thought I was pretty determined and it shows.

“Yesterday was a difficult day, quite emotional… we are giving Stormy a lot of love.”

Captain Sam Stosur is yet to announce who will play doubles for Australia after Hunter and year-end world number one Ellen Perez were initially selected.


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