Sun, Feb 09, 2020 - Page 11 News List

Naomi Osaka suffers thrashing in Fed Cup return


Japan’s Naomi Osaka walks off the court after her Fed Cup first-round qualifier against Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo at La Manga Club in Cartagena, Spain, on Friday.

Photo: AFP

Naomi Osaka’s return to Japan’s Fed Cup team after a year’s absence on Friday turned sour as the world No. 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, Spain, but lost 6-0, 6-3.

Osaka, whose Australian Open title defense was terminated 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 No. 78 who claimed only a second Fed Cup singles win.

“Honestly, it wasn’t even a match,” an emotional Osaka said.

“For me I’m kind of dealing with some stuff and I couldn’t mentally get into the match,” she said. “It’s sort of ... my fault.”

Claycourt specialist Carla Suarez Navarro, playing in her last home tie for Spain, then beat Misaki Doi 6-3, 6-4 to put Spain 2-0 ahead going into yesterday’s reverse singles.

Spain needed to win just one of yesterday’s three contests to book their place in the inaugural Fed Cup Finals featuring 12 nations in Budapest in April.

Holders France, runners-up Australia, wildcards the Czech Republic and hosts Hungary are to definitely be involved in the revamped event, leaving eight others to book their places in this weekend’s qualifiers.

Switzerland are well-placed after moving 2-0 ahead in their tie against a much-weakened Canada side in Biel, Switzerland.

Jil Teichmann battled past teenager Leylah Annie Fernandez before Belinda Bencic beat Gabriela Dabrowski, who was a late replacement for an injured Eugenie Bouchard.

Canada were also unable to call upon US Open champion Bianca Andreescu for Friday’s singles.

The Netherlands and Belarus were locked at 1-1, with Aryna Sabalenka leveling the tie after Kiki Bertens had put the Netherlands ahead with victory over Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

Britain’s hopes of reaching the Budapest showdown are hanging by a thread after falling 2-0 behind in Slovakia.

Heather Watson was beaten 6-2, 6-3 by Anna Karolina Schmiedlova before Harriet Dart lost to 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 7-5 to Viktoria Kuzmova, despite coming back from 2-5 down in the decider.

Romania were without Simona Halep in Cluj, Romania, but ended the first day level at 1-1 with four-time winners Russia, while Belgium were also locked at one apiece with Kazakhstan.

Germany are in the driving seat in Brazil after wins for Laura Siegemund and Tatjana Maria in Florianopolis.

Later the US, who have won a record 18 Fed Cup titles, attempt to book their place in Budapest, as they begin their tie against Latvia.

Newly crowned Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin leads the team, with Serena Williams relegated to second singles spot.

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