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Spain seal place in Fed Cup Finals

by Amy Lavin (2020-07-03)

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By Martyn Herman

LONDON, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Spain raced into the Fed Cup Finals as they raced into an unassailable 3-0 lead over Japan, with Carla Suarez Navarro claiming the winning point at the La scan manga Club on Saturday.

The five-time champions are the first nation to join exempted France, Australia, Czech Republic and hosts Hungary in the revamped finals taking place in April.

Seven other qualifying ties will be resolved later on Saturday to complete the lineup.

Canada trailed 2-0 to Switzerland overnight but a stunning win for 17-year-old world number 185 Leylah Annie Fernandez over world number five Belinda Bencic on Saturday gave them hope.

Spain led 2-0 overnight and the 31-year-old Suarez Navarro wasted little time finishing off Japan as she swept past Kurumi Nara 6-1 6-3 on the outdoor claycourt.

Nara, 137 on the WTA rankings, was a late stand-in as Japan's number one Naomi Osaka did not take to the court after her dismal defeat by Sara Sorribes Tormo on Friday.

In the other ties, Slovakia lead Britain 2-0, Germany are 2-0 ahead of Brazil and the United States, featuring Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin and Serena Williams, lead Latvia 2-0.

Romania and Russia were level going into Saturday, as were Belgium and Kazakhstan.

The Fed Cup has followed the men's Davis Cup competition by adopting a multi-nation finals in one city, with 12 team set to assemble at the Laszlo Papp Budapest Sports Arena in April.

They will be split into four groups of three with the winners of each group moving into the semi-finals before a final to decide the 2020 champions.

As well as trying to increase the exposure of the women's team event run by the International Tennis Federation, the extra TV revenue means an $18 million prize fund of which $12 million goes to the players and the other $6 million to the federations.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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