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Australia takes commanding lead in Billie Jean King Cup qualifier despite storm Hunter's injury blow

Posted : 12 April 2024

Australia, a seven-time champion, took charge of their Billie Jean King Cup qualifier against Mexico, despite facing the setback of losing Storm Hunter to a severe Achilles injury just before the tie. Samantha Stosur, in her debut as captain, had designated Hunter as the No. 2 singles player, but a ruptured tendon during a practice session dashed those plans, leaving Hunter heartbroken and casting doubts over her participation in the Paris Olympics.


Daria Saville stepped up admirably to replace Hunter, swiftly dispatching Marcela Zacarias 6-1, 6-0 in under an hour, positioning Australia within striking distance of the season-ending finals in Seville. Saville, who recently reclaimed a spot in the world's top 100, expressed satisfaction with her performance, citing determination as the driving force behind her success on the court, amidst the emotional turmoil surrounding Hunter's injury.


In the opening singles match against a depleted Mexican squad, Arina Rodionova returned to Billie Jean King Cup action after an eight-year hiatus, battling past Giuliana Olmos 3-6, 6-3, 6-1. Rodionova's resilience shone through as she rallied to win nine of the last ten games, significantly propelling the hosts into a commanding position. Reflecting on her victory, Rodionova expressed gratitude for the opportunity to represent her country, underscoring the significance of playing for national pride.


Despite Mexico's roster missing their top three singles players, including world number 100 Renata Zarazua, the team faces a daunting challenge in the reverse singles on Saturday. With Australia firmly in control and bolstered by stellar performances from Saville and Rodionova, Mexico finds itself confronted with an uphill battle to salvage the tie and keep their Billie Jean King Cup hopes alive.



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