Australia and Switzerland secured their spots in the semi-finals of the Billie Jean King Cup and will go up against each other for a place in the final.

Belarus proved no match for Australia, who got the job done across their two singles matches on the day in the Czech Republic.

Storm Sanders got the ball rolling as she comfortably saw off Yuliya Hatouka 6-3 6-3 in the first contest of the day in Group B.

Ajla Tomljanovic was made to work a little harder by Aliaksandra Sasnovich as she lost the first set but eventually rallied to overcome her opponent 4-6 6-2 6-3.

It meant the two countries' doubles meeting was a dead rubber – Belarus at least took the opportunity to avoid a 3-0 annihilation as Sasnovich teamed up with Lidziya Marozava in the 6-4 6-4 defeat of Olivia Gadecki and Ellen Perez.

In Group D, Switzerland and the Czech Republic claimed one victory apiece in the singles – Marketa Vondrousova had too much for Viktorija Golubic in a 6-4 6-2 success that gave the Czechs the upper hand.

But Belinda Bencic levelled things up despite the unenviable task of facing world number three Barbora Krejcikova, emerging with a 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 success.

Bencic was then involved in the doubles decider as well, getting the better of Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova with Jil Belen Teichmann, their 6-3 6-3 win sealing the semis spot for the Swiss.

The Russian Tennis Federation – who eliminated defending champions France on Wednesday – and the United States are due to contest the other semi-final.

 

 

Elina Svitolina required a third-set tie-break to progress at the Indian Wells Open, while former world number one Victoria Azarenka handled an old rival in straight sets and Simona Halep fell victim to an upset. 

Svitolina – the fourth seed – dropped the first set to 32nd seed Sorana Cirstea before fighting back to reach the round of 16 at the WTA Premier 1000 event on Sunday.

Two-time grand-slam champion Azarenka joined Svitolina in the next round after knocking out seventh seed Petra Kvitova, but 11th seed Halep became Aliaksandra Sasnovich's latest conquest. 

 

SVITOLINA SURVIVES CIRSTEA SCARE

Svitolina needed two hours, 32 minutes to outlast Cirstea 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-3) and remain unbeaten in three career matches against the Romanian. 

The Ukrainian was on the defensive throughout the opening set, facing 11 break points on her serve and managing to save eight of them before Cirstea finally won out. 

Svitolina tightened things up from there, saving four of five break points the rest of the match. 

"It was a very tough match today, and I was fighting and trying to find my game," said Svitolina, who will face Jessica Pegula next. "It was a bit of a rollercoaster.

"I wish I could play a little bit better in the first set, I had chances to grab that set, but unfortunately it didn't play the way I wanted. I had to fight for every point, and Sorana played a great match, I think. I'm happy that I could win today."

 

AZARENKA TAKES DOWN KVITOVA

Azarenka won her first two Tour-level matches against Kvitova in 2008 and 2009 but had prevailed only once in six meetings since then before Sunday's 7-5 6-4 triumph. 

The two-time Indian Wells champion converted break-point chances when she needed them, six of 11 in all, and had 18 unforced errors to Kvitova's 26. 

"It was important to just stay there, really take my opportunities, not to let her," Azarenka said after taking down two-time Wimbledon winner Kvitova. "If she gets in the groove in couple points, not to kind of let her extend that streak, if you want to call it that.

"I was trying to still create opportunities for myself, be more aggressive, and honestly just believing also that what I'm doing is right and see how I can execute that. So intention was good. Execution followed after."

 

ANOTHER UPSET FOR SASNOVICH

After knocking off US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the second round, Sasnovich ushered out another grand slam winner in Halep 7-5 6-4 and will next face Azarenka.

The world number 100 had 22 winners to 16 for Halep and won 61.8 per cent of points on her serve as she reached the round of 16 at Indian Wells for the first time. 

In other matches Sunday, ninth seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova fell to 23rd seed and US Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez 5-7 6-3 6-4, while second seed Iga Swiatek dropped only one game in a 6-1 6-0 demolition of Veronika Kudermetova. 

Jelena Ostapenko and Shelby Rogers also advanced. 

Defending champion Jelena Ostapenko booked her place in the last 16 of the Luxembourg Open with a comfortable straight-sets win over Jule Niemeier.

The world number 30 came out on top 6-2 6-2 in a little under an hour to set up a meeting with Arianne Hartono, who earlier beat Anna-Lena Friedsam 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 7-6 (7-4).

Fifth seed Marketa Vondrousova also shuffled through to the next round thanks to a 6-2 6-3 triumph against Alison Van Uytvanck, while Zarina Diyas will face tournament favourite and Olympic champion Belinda Bencic next after beating Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in three sets.

Aliaksandra Sasnovich was made to work harder for her 7-5 7-6 (8-6) win against Lesia Tsurenko, with that the longest straight-sets match of 2021 so far at two hours and 30 minutes, according to the WTA.

Greet Minnen and Mandy Minella were also victorious on Tuesday, overcoming Nuria Parrizas-Diaz and Varvara Gracheva respectively.

At Zavarovalnica Sava Portoroz in Slovenia, meanwhile, home favourite Kaja Juvan eliminated top seed Petra Martic with a 6-3 6-4 win. Sweden's Rebecca Peterson was another seed to fall, going down in straight sets to Lucia Bronzetti.

Jelena Ostapenko wasted little time in her opening match at the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy, while there were also wins for Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Vera Zvonareva in Monday's action. 

Ostapenko needed less than an hour to get past Paula Badosa, who caused an upset when the pair met at last year's delayed French Open. 

There was to be no Roland Garros repeat for Badosa, though, as she was swept aside 6-2 6-2.  

The sixth-seeded Ostapenko started her campaign impressively in Russia, producing 26 winners and just eight unforced errors. Her serve was also in good order, never giving her opponent a chance of a break. 

Sasnovich had to work a little harder, rallying from a set down to see off Ana Bogdan 2-6 6-2 6-1. Her reward is a clash with third seed Fiona Ferro, who received a bye through to the second round.

Zvonareva, meanwhile, progressed in straight sets against Arina Rodionova, the Russian dropping just four games during a contest that lasted one hour and 22 minutes.  

Victory was sealed at the second opportunity, a sliced backhand into the net by her opponent sending Zvonareva through to the last 32. 

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