SEVILLE/ TURIN — Italy became the first nation through to the semi-finals of the Billie Jean King Cup as they defeated Germany 3-0 with Jasmine Paolini securing the vital win in Group D.
The United States began its campaign in the Billie Jean King Cup Finals with a win over defending champion Switzerland, setting up a decisive tie against the Czech Republic for a spot in the semi-finals.
Danielle Collins and Sofia Kenin won their singles matches to give the Americans the victory that left them tied with the Czech Republic atop Group A.
Last year’s runners-up Australia edged Kazakhstan 2-1 in a must-win clash in Group B, although the complications of the group format mean they can no longer reach the last four.
Italy dispatched France Wednesday and followed up strongly against Germany as Martina Trevisan secured a hard-fought 7-6(6) 6-1 victory over Eva Lys.
Paolini, who like Trevisan also won her singles against France, dispatched Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-3 6-2.
It was the first time Italy has reached the semi-finals of the competition since 2014. “I think we have to rest tomorrow and be prepared for the next day. We’ve reached the semi-final which was a big goal for us,” Italy captain Tathiana Garbin said according to Reuters.
“We have to be happy but never satisfied.”
Australia had their backs to the wall after losing to Slovenia on Tuesday and needed to beat Kazakhstan to have any hope of reaching the semis.
Captain Alicia Molik changed her line-up and world number 155 Storm Hunter rewarded her faith by posting a 7-6(2) 6-4 victory over Anna Danilina, ranked a lowly 802nd.
Yulia Putintseva got the Kazakhs back in to the tie as she beat Kim Birrell 6-0 7-5 to set up a doubles decider.
Doubles world number one Hunter returned to court alongside Ellen Perez to take on Danilina and Putintseva and after splitting the opening two sets they held their nerve to win the match tiebreak 10-5.
Molik, who has been in the job a decade, initially seemed unsure of whether her team were out.
“I just wanted to triple cross-check with the referee’s team. You’re probably right (that we’re out), but stranger things have happened.”
Sadly for the Australians it was not enough and Kazakhstan will face Slovenia to decide the group winners.
Collins defeated Celine Naef 7-6 (4), 6-1 for her sixth win in seven Billie Jean King Cup matches. Kenin then beat Viktorija Golubic 6-3, 6-7 (1), 7-5 to seal the victory for the Americans.
The US remains unbeaten against Switzerland in the Billie Jean King Cup, winning all 10 ties between the nations.
The US is the most successful nation in Billie Jean King Cup history with 18 titles. It is trying to reach the semifinals for the second time in three years.
Djokovic grouped with Sinner, Tsitsipas, Rune at ATP Finals
Defending champion Novak Djokovic has been placed in a group with home favorite Jannik Sinner for the ATP Finals in Turin, where he needs to win just one match to end the year as world No. 1.
The tournament starts Sunday and the final is scheduled for Nov. 19.
The draw for the season-ending, eight-man finals was made and saw Djokovic pitted against Stefanos Tsitsipas and Holger Rune as well as Sinner in the Green Group for the round-robin stage.
Second-seeded Carlos Alcaraz headlines the Red Group, which also includes Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Alexander Zverev.
The top two from each group advance to the semifinals.
Djokovic is bidding to win the event for a seventh time and has not lost a match since his defeat to Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final in July. He currently shares the record of six victories with Roger Federer.
Zverev has won the tournament twice, while Medvedev and Tsitsipas have one victory apiece.