• Kyodo, Reuters


Spain clinched its Fed Cup qualifying tie with Japan on Saturday when Carla Suarez Navarro faced 137th-ranked Kurumi Nara instead of world No. 10 Naomi Osaka and won in straight sets to lift the hosts to their third straight win in the best-of-five fixture.

Suarez Navarro, ranked 55th in world, beat Nara 6-1, 6-3 in 1 hour, 15 minutes on the clay at Centro de Tenis La Manga Club, to clinch the victory for Spain, which has never lost to Japan in their four Fed Cup encounters.

Osaka committed 50 unforced errors in her straight-sets loss on Friday before Suarez Navarro saw off Misaki Doi in the second match.

The victory sends fifth-seeded Spain into April’s Fed Cup finals in Budapest. Japan will need to win a playoff for the right to participate in next year’s qualifiers.

Elsewhere, Canadian teenager Leylah Annie Fernandez caused a huge shock in the Fed Cup qualifiers when she beat Swiss world No. 5 Belinda Bencic 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) in Biel, but it proved in vain as Switzerland progressed to April’s finals. Belgium, Slovakia, Germany, Russia and Belarus also moved through to the inaugural 12-nation showdown in the Hungarian capital.

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