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Raducanu, Swiatek lead countries to Billie Jean King Cup Finals

Aurelien Meunier / Getty Images Sport / Getty

LONDON (AP) — Emma Raducanu clinched Britain's berth in the Billie Jean King Cup Finals by taking the last six points of a 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (1) victory against Diane Parry of France on Saturday for an insurmountable 3-1 lead in the best-of-five-match qualifying round.

Raducanu, the 2021 U.S. Open champion who missed most of last season because of injuries, also put together a comeback from a set down in her opening singles match Friday against Caroline Garcia on an indoor clay court in Le Portel, France.

This was a rematch from last year in qualifying, when France won; this time, the countries were tied 1-all after Friday. Katie Boulter beat Clara Burel 7-5, 6-0 to put Britain ahead 2-1 on Saturday, before Raducanu came through in a contest that lasted nearly 3 hours. She led Parry 5-2 in the third set, held two match points while serving for the win at 5-3 but needed the tiebreaker to close things out.

Raducanu had surgery on each wrist and one ankle in 2023. When Saturday's win ended, she dropped her racket on the court, leaned over to place her hands on her knees, then stood with a wide smile.

"To be able to put two matches like that back to back — three sets and on clay, against really tough opponents — it's just a testament to the work we've been doing," said Raducanu, who has been as high as No. 10 in the WTA rankings and is No. 302 this week, more than 250 places below both Garcia (No. 23) and Parry (No. 49). "And I knew it would pay off, eventually. So I'm very pleased that, this weekend, it was able to show."

Britain has never won the international team competition for women.

Poland — led by No. 1-ranked Iga Swiatek — Japan, Australia and Slovakia were among the other countries that advanced to the Finals, which will be held in Seville, Spain, in November. The eight nations that win in qualifying join defending champion Canada, 2023 runner-up Italy, host Spain and wild-card selection Czech Republic in the 12-team Finals field.

Heading into Saturday, the United States led Belgium 2-0, Ukraine led Romania 2-0 and Germany was ahead of Brazil 2-0.

Swiatek clinched a berth for Poland by defeating Switzerland's Celine Naef 6-4, 6-3 on Saturday for a 3-0 lead. Swiatek — who has claimed Grand Slam titles at the French Open and one at the U.S. Open — also won her opening singles match on an indoor hard court at Biel, Switzerland.

Japan went ahead 3-0 against Kazakhstan without needing four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka to play a second match on an indoor hard court in Tokyo. That's because Nao Hibino beat Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7) on Saturday, after Osaka's win against Putintseva on Friday helped the hosts go up 2-0.

Slovakia moved into the Finals when 16-year-old Renata Jamrichova defeated Veronika Erjavec 6-2, 6-0 on an indoor hard court in Bratislava to give the hosts a 3-0 edge over visiting Slovenia.

Australia went up 3-0 over Mexico on an outdoor hard court in Brisbane thanks to Taylah Preston's 6-1, 6-1 victory over Marcela Zacarias.


AP tennis:

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