BRISBANE: Seven-time champions Australia seized control of their Billie Jean King Cup qualifier against Mexico on Friday despite losing Storm Hun­ter on the eve of the tie to a serious Achilles injury.

Samantha Stosur, in her first match as captain, picked Hunter as her number two singles player, but she suffered a ruptured tendon during a practice session ahead of the clash in Brisbane.

“I am devastated and heartbroken,” said Hunter, the world’s number three doubles player, who will now almost certainly miss the Paris Olympics this summer.

Daria Saville stepped in and blew Marcela Zacarias off court 6-1, 6-0 in under an hour to put Australia within reach of the season-ending finals in Seville.In the first singles rubber against an understrength Mexico, Arina Rodionova opened her first BJK Cup tie in eight years with a battling 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 win over Giuliana Olmos.

Rodionova struggled to get going but finally hit her stride to win nine of the last 10 games and emphatically put the hosts on the front foot.Mexico are without their three highest-ranked singles players, including world number 100 Renata Zarazua, and face an uphill task in the reverse singles on Saturday.

Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2024

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