Naomi Osaka’s return to Japan’s Fed Cup team after a year’s absence turned sour on Friday as the World No 10 suffered a thrashing at the hands of Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo.
The two-time Grand Slam champion was expected to give Japan a huge boost in their bid to overcome five-time champions Spain at the La Manga Club near Murcia, but lost 6-0, 6-3.
Osaka, whose Australian Open title defence was ended by 15-year-old Coco Gauff, looked totally ill at ease on the clay as she racked up 50 unforced errors in a torrid display against the World No 78 who claimed only a second Fed Cup singles win.
“Honestly, it wasn’t even a match,” am emotional Osaka said. “For me I’m kind of dealing with some stuff and I couldn’t mentally get into the match. It’s sort of... my fault.”
Claycourt specialist Carla Suarez Navarro, playing in her last home tie for Spain, then beat Misaki Doi 6-3, 6-4 to put Spain 2-0 ahead going into Saturday’s reverse singles.
Spain need to win just one of Saturday’s three rubbers to book their place in the inaugural Fed Cup Finals featuring 12 nations in Budapest in April.
Holders France, runners-up Australia, wildcards Czech Republic and hosts Hungary will definitely be involved in the revamped event, leaving eight others to book their places in this weekend’s qualifiers.
Switzerland are well-placed after moving 2-0 ahead in their tie against a much-weakened Canada side in Biel.
Jil Teichmann battled past teenager Leylah Annie Fernandez before Belinda Bencic beat Gabriela Dabrowski, who was a late replacement for an injured Eugenie Bouchard.
Canada were also unable to call upon US Open champion Bianca Andreescu for Friday’s singles.
The Netherlands and Belarus were locked at 1-1 with Aryna Sabalenka levelling the tie after Kiki Bertens had put the Dutch ahead with victory over Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
Britain’s hopes of reaching the Budapest showdown are hanging by a thread after falling 2-0 behind in Slovakia.
Heather Watson was beaten 6-2, 6-3 by Anna Karolina Schmiedlova before Harriet Dart lost to 6-7(3), 6-3, 7-5 to Viktoria Kuzmova despite coming back from 2-5 down in the decider.
Romania were without Simona Halep in Cluj but ended day one level at 1-1 with four-time winners Russia while Belgium were also locked at one apiece with Kazakhstan.
Germany are in the driving seat in Brazil after wins for Laura Siegemund and Tatjana Maria in Florianopolis.
Later the United States, who have won a record 18 Fed Cup titles, attempt to book their place in Budapest as they begin their tie against Latvia.
Newly-crowned Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin leads the team, with Serena Williams relegated to second singles spot.
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Updated Date: Feb 08, 2020 09:13:42 IST