Arina Rodionova and Daria Saville secured victories for Australia, giving them a 2-0 lead over Mexico in the Billie Jean King Cup tie held in Brisbane.

Arina Rodionova battled through team tennis nerves, while Daria Saville confidently propelled Australia to the brink of a return to the Billie Jean King Cup finals. With the hosts leading Mexico 2-0 after Friday’s singles at Brisbane’s Pat Rafter Arena, Rodionova clinched a hard-fought victory against Giuliana Olmos, triumphing 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 in a little over two hours. Meanwhile, Saville dominated her match against world number 562 Marcela Zacarias, winning 6-1, 6-0 in just 51 minutes.

Australia now requires just one win in Saturday’s reverse singles or doubles to secure a spot in November’s 12-team finals tournament. Seeking their first title since 1974, Australia has been runner-up twice in the last five years.

Despite Olmos’ credentials as a former world number six in doubles and a seasoned veteran of 24 Cup ties, including being the only Mexican woman to have cracked the top 10 and won a WTA Tour event in singles or doubles, Rodionova held her nerve. Although Olmos initially had the upper hand with a dominant first set and even held break point at 3-3 in the second, Rodionova persevered, eventually breaking through and winning eight consecutive games to secure the victory.

Reflecting on her performance, Rodionova emphasized the unpredictability of tennis, stating, “Everyone knows, if you’re looking by the rankings, we’re supposed to win. But that’s so dangerous. I just kept waiting, fighting, and hoping she would go back down to the level she usually plays in singles.”

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