• Kyodo

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Japan is in control of its Fed Cup World Group II relegation showdown against the Netherlands following singles wins by Misaki Doi and Nao Hibino on Saturday.

Hibino easily overcame Dutch No. l Bibiane Schoofs 6-1, 6-2 after Doi beat Richel Hogenkamp 6-3, 6-4 in the first rubber at ITC Utsubo Tennis Center.

The hosts can ensure their berth in World Group II next year with victory in one of the three remaining rubbers on Sunday.

Hibino said recent efforts to sharpen her play at the net had paid off against Schoofs.

“I felt there was room for improvement, so it was something I really worked on,” Hibino said. “I practiced my slice and varying my shots, as well as coming to the net, and I was able to put that to use.”

Doi will face Schoofs in the reverse singles Sunday before Hibino plays Hogenkamp. The Japanese doubles pair of Shuko Aoyama and Eri Hozumi will meet Lesley Kerkhove and Demi Schuurs in the final rubber.

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