Naomi Osaka’s return to Japan’s Fed Cup team after a year’s absence turned sour on Friday as the world number 10 suffered a thrashing at the hands of Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo.
The two-time Grand Slam champion was expected to give Japan a huge boost in their bid to overcome five-time champions Spain at the La Manga Club near Murcia, but lost 6-0 6-3.
A huge win for Sara Sorribes Tormo 👏
— Fed Cup (@FedCup) February 7, 2020
Osaka, whose Australian Open title defence was ended by 15-year-old Coco Gauff, looked totally ill at ease on the clay as she racked up 50 unforced errors in a torrid display against the world number 78 who claimed only a second Fed Cup singles win.
“Honestly, it wasn’t even a match,” am emotional Osaka said. “For me, I’m kind of dealing with some stuff and I couldn’t mentally get into the match. It’s sort of my fault.”
Spain seal place in Fed Cup Finals
Meanwhile, Spain raced into the Fed Cup Finals as they raced into an unassailable 3-0 lead over Japan, with Carla Suarez Navarro claiming the winning point at the La Manga Club on Saturday.
The five-time champions are the first nation to join exempted France, Australia, Czech Republic and hosts Hungary in the revamped finals taking place in April. Seven other qualifying ties will be resolved later on Saturday to complete the lineup.
Canada trailed 2-0 to Switzerland overnight but a stunning win for 17-year-old world number 185 Leylah Annie Fernandez over world number five Belinda Bencic on Saturday gave them hope.
Spain led 2-0 overnight and the 31-year-old Suarez Navarro wasted little time finishing off Japan as she swept past Kurumi Nara 6-1 6-3 on the outdoor claycourt.
In the other ties, Slovakia lead Britain 2-0, Germany are 2-0 ahead of Brazil and the United States, featuring Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin and Serena Williams, lead Latvia 2-0.
Romania and Russia were level going into Saturday, as were Belgium and Kazakhstan.
The Fed Cup has followed the men’s Davis Cup competition by adopting a multi-nation finals in one city, with 12 team set to assemble at the Laszlo Papp Budapest Sports Arena in April. They will be split into four groups of three with the winners of each group moving into the semi-finals before a final to decide the 2020 champions.
As well as trying to increase the exposure of the women’s team event run by the International Tennis Federation, the extra TV revenue means an $18 million prize fund of which $12 million goes to the players and the other $6 million to the federations.
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