Grand Slam champions Elena Rybakina and Barbora Krejcikova comfortably won their opening matches to help Kazakhstan and the Czech Republic take 2-0 leads in their Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers on Friday.
Kazakhstan stamped its authority over Poland on clay at home, taking full advantage of world number one Iga Swiatek’s absence due to injury as Yulia Putintseva stunned Magda, Linette, 7-5 6-3 before Rybakina doubled their advantage.
The reigning Wimbledon champion fired nine aces and won three out of six breakpoints in her 6-3 6-4 victory over Weronika Falkowska to put Kazakhstan in full control ahead of the final day’s action.
The best-of-five qualifiers will feature two singles matches on Friday and two reverse singles matches on Saturday along with a doubles rubber.
“Magda is a rather difficult player, so it’ll be a difficult match,” Rybakina said, looking ahead to her clash with Linette.
“I hope today’s match will allow me to feel more confident tomorrow. I’ll prepare and hope that I’ll be able to win.”
Czech Republic’s former Roland Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrousova beat Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk 6-2 6-1 in the Turkish city of Antalya where the teams are playing due to the war in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion of its neighbour.
Krejcikova, the 2021 French Open champion, then eased past Ukraine’s Katarina Zavatska 6-4 6-3.
The 27-year-old, who said she has been supporting the people of Ukraine during the conflict, also pledged her earnings from the Qualifiers to the people of Turkey affected by the devastating earthquake in February.
Spain led Mexico 2-0 after Sara Sorribes Tormo thrashed Fernanda Contreras Gomez 6-0 6-0 before Nuria Parrizas Diaz beat Renata Zarazua 6-4 6-3.
The United States, which has won more titles than any other nation in the competition with 18, faces Austria while Britain meets France, Italy plays Slovakia, and Canada takes on Belgium.
The nine victorious countries from the Qualifiers will join defending champions Switzerland and 2022 runners-up Australia at this year’s Finals, which will take place from Nov. 7-12.
The 12th nation competing at the finals will be announced once a host has been confirmed.
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