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Japan secures historic Billie Jean King Cup finals berth led by Nao Hibino's heroics

Posted : 13 April 2024

Naomi Osaka's presence was not required as her teammate Nao Hibino secured Japan's historic qualification for the Billie Jean King Cup finals, delivering an insurmountable 3-0 lead over Kazakhstan. Osaka, a former world No. 1 and four-time major champion, returned to the competition for the first time since 2020 and clinched victory in her opening singles match on Friday.


However, Osaka did not have to take to the court again as Hibino sealed Japan's place in the November finals with a hard-fought triumph over world No. 50 Yulia Putintseva, prevailing 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (9/7). Hibino's resilience was on display as she saved four consecutive match points before staging a comeback to win the third-set tiebreaker, securing her second singles win of the tie after a dominant performance against Anna Danilina in the opening day.


Osaka's earlier victory over Putintseva, characterized by 15 aces and flawless serving, contributed to Japan's commanding lead. Notably, this marked Osaka's first match appearance in Japan since competing at the Pan Pacific Open in September 2022. Despite Kazakhstan missing the services of world No. 4 Elena Rybakina, who reached the final of the Miami Open last month, Japan's cohesive performance propelled them to the prestigious BJK Cup finals set to take place in Seville.


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