SEVILLE – Italy became the first nation through to the semi-finals of the Billie Jean King Cup as Jasmine Paolini gave them an unassailable 2-0 lead against Germany on Thursday in Group D.
Last year’s runners-up Australia kept alive their hopes as they edged Kazakhstan 2-1 in a must-win clash in Group B.
Italy dispatched France on 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, then dispatched Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-3 6-2.
It is the first time Italy have reached the semi-finals of the competition since 2014.
Australia had their backs against the wall after losing to Slovenia on Tuesday but remain in contention for the semi-finals even if their fate is not in their hands.
Victory for Slovenia against Kazakhstan in Group B on Friday would send them home.
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 against 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 and set up a doubles decider.
Doubles world number one Hunter then 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.
Later on Thursday, reigning champions Switzerland face the United States in Group A needing to win to stay in the hunt.
Canada can secure their place in the semi-finals if they beat a Poland side without world number one Iga Swiatek. REUTERS
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