LONDON – US Open champion Emma Raducanu won the Billie Jean King Cup debut in Prague on Friday to leave Britain level with the Czech Republic.
Radukanu’s rapid rise was evident before she made her debut for Britain and her first professional match on clay, defeating Tereza Martinkova 7–5, 7–5.
Her third win of the year came with added pressure after teammate Harriet Dart lost 6-1, 6-0 to former French Open finalist Marketa Vondrosova in the opening singles. Vondrosova and Radukanu will clash in the first reverse singles on Saturday.
The Czechs are in favor of winning the best of five qualifiers for the final to be held in November. They have won the cup six times since 2011, although they are without their three highest-ranked singles players – No. 2 Barbora Krejcikova, No. 7 Karolina Pliskova, No. 28 Petra Kvitova – and No. 1-ranked doubles player Katerina Siniakova.
Elsewhere, Italy overcame France 2–0, Kazakhstan 2–0, Germany 2–0, Poland 2–0 Romania, Spain 2–0 The Netherlands, and the United States overcame Ukraine 2–0.
Canada led Latvia 2–0 in Vancouver. Leyla Fernandez, who lost to Radukanu in last year’s US Open final, beat Darja Semenistaza 6-1, 6-2 and Rebecca Marino beat Daniela Wiseman 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3.
Belgium had a walkover victory over Belarus, later and title holder Russia was suspended for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Australia replaced Russia in the final, joining 2021 finalists Switzerland and Slovakia.
Inga Swietec celebrated her first competitive match since becoming world No. 1 by defeating Mihela Buzarnescu of Romania in less than an hour. wietek extended his singles winning streak to 18 after Polish teammate Magda Linet took the first point from Irina-Camelia Begu.
Swietake could confirm Poland’s place in the final when he takes on Begu in the first reverse singles on Saturday.
At Alghero, Italy’s Jasmine Paolini came from a set and break down and saved two match points to beat Alize Cornet of France 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(2) in two-plus hours. Camila Giorgi also defeated Oshin Dodin 6-1, 6-2 for the first time.
France has won 0-2 down only once, but that was against Italy in 2015.
In Nur-Sultan, Yulia Putintseva defeated Angelique Kerber 3–6, 6–3, 6–2 for a record 15th win in the cup for Kazakhstan. Then Elena Rybakina overtook Laura Siegemund to put the favorite Germans into a deep hole.
At s-Hertogenbosch, straight sets victories were recorded for Spain’s Sara Soribes Tormo and Nuria Parizas-Diaz, who registered their first cup singles win.
In Asheville, Alison Riske and Jessica Pegula won in straight sets, although Riske’s loss to Dayana Yastremska included the first set that lasted almost 90 minutes.
Riske won 7-6 (16), 7-5, a 34-point tiebreaker second in Billie Jean Cup history, only 21-19 in the 2004 doubles match between India and Uzbekistan.
More Associated Press Tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports