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Storm Sanders edges Aussies towards Billie Jean King Cup semis

Storm Sanders en route to sweeping Australia into an early lead in their BJK Cup tie with Belgium.

Storm Sanders en route to sweeping Australia into an early lead in their BJK Cup tie with Belgium. Photo: AP

Storm Sanders has again blown way above her ranking to sweep Australia’s women closer to a place in the Billie Jean King Cup semi-finals in Glasgow.

The Queensland left-hander, a lowly No.237 in the world, appeared once again to be inspired by the singles responsibility for her country as she defeated Alison van Uytvanck 6-2 6-2 to put Australia 1-0 up in the decisive final group tie against Belgium.

Victory in Thursday’s tie at the Emirates Arena guarantees Alicia Molik’s team a place in Saturday’s semis, with Belgium now having to win both the two final rubbers in straight sets to edge them out and grab the last-four spot instead.

Ajla Tomljanovic now has the chance to seal overall victory for Australia in the second singles match against Elise Mertens in the battle between the nations’ two top players.

Sanders hasn’t won a singles in a WTA tour main draw all year while making the top 10 in the doubles, but she always seems inspired when given key responsibility in the event, formerly the Fed Cup, that has long been seen as the World Cup of women’s tennis.

Against world No.54 van Uytvanck, she made a nonsense of the rankings, dominating with excellent serving and her powerful forehand to draw first blood for the Australians after less than an hour and a quarter.

“Being able to back up Tuesday’s win, I’m just so happy to get this win for the team, because this is a must-win tie for us,” said Sanders, who had also beaten Slovakia’s Viktoria Kuzmova in Australia’s opening 2-1 win.

“I’m an aggressive player, so I feel if I go out and play on my terms it makes it a lot easier for me.”

That aggression was clear from the outset as Sanders went on attack to break for a 4-2 lead in the opening set which then went on to win in just 23 minutes.

Key to her win was a marathon first game of the second set in which Rockhampton’s Sanders saved five break points before holding.

After that, she never looked back, crashing 18 winners as van Uytvanck became increasingly dispirited and eventually mis-hit an overhead on the third match point to give Sanders her fourth BJK Cup singles win in just five matches.

-AAP

Topics: Australia
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