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Great Britain surprises Spain 3-0 to reach the quarter-finals of the Billie Jean King Cup | sneakers

As they returned to the Emirates Arena on Thursday for an essential and decisive draw against Spain, there were only two options for the Great Britain team in the Billie Jean King Cup Finals: win every match or go home.

With their backs to the wall, they rose to the occasion and achieved the greatest achievement the British women’s team had in years, beating Spain 3-0 to reach the semi-finals of the BJK Cup for the first time since 1981. Saturday.

After Heather Watson opened the tie by demolishing Nuria Parrizas-Diaz 6-0, 6-2, Harriet Dart faced Paula Badosa, the world number 13, and produced perhaps the best display of her career, winning 6-3, 6-4 to force a decisive doubles eraser.

The doubles specialist duo of Olivia Nicholls and Alicia Barnett were left to play for the semifinals in their first live match, a situation they handled spectacularly by beating Aliona Bolsova and Rebeka Masarova 7-6(5), 6-2 to ensure the victory of their lives.

“It’s an important moment,” said Anne Keothavong, the captain of the GB. “We’re lucky to be in this competition for reasons that everyone knows, but to then deliver and move on to the semifinals, I mean, it’s amazing. It’s really. It depends on the players. The way they approached the match today, yeah, just amazing.”

On Wednesday night, Spain’s 3-0 victory over Kazakhstan meant they needed to win just one match to advance to the semi-finals. Keothavong opted for a significant change by replacing Katie Boulter as second player with the experienced Watson.

The decision paid off in full. Watson, currently ranked 115th in the world, was impeccable. The 30-year-old played daring tennis, attacking with minimal errors, finishing the Spaniard in just 67 minutes.

Great Britain's Harriet Dart in action during her match against Spain's Paula Badosa.
Harriet Dart defeated Paula Badosa 6-3, 6-4 to force a decisive rubber for Great Britain. Photography: Ed Sykes/Action Images/Reuters

On paper, the biggest challenge of the qualifier was Badosa, who took second in the world rankings earlier this year. Dart, ranked 98th, was completely defeated by Elena Rybakina on Tuesday, but she entered the match determined to play on her terms.

From the start, the 26-year-old continually forced herself inside the baseline, catching the ball early, stealing time from Badosa and refusing to back down. Badosa played poorly, but throughout the second set she put ample pressure on Dart’s serve. Dart navigated several difficult service games, continuing to trust that she could win with her front foot as she closed out a career win.

“Honestly, Heather’s departure inspired me a lot,” Dart said. “I am so proud to represent my country, to also be able to perform at home in front of a local crowd. It doesn’t get more special than that.”

Two days ago, Barnett, 29, and Nicholls, 28, were overjoyed to mark their debuts with a playoff victory against Kazakhstan. As two former collegiate players who spent most of their time on the ITF Circuit, nothing in their careers has fully prepared them for such a significant match.

They handled the occasion with ease. They were sharp from the first point, then went through a tense tiebreak from the first set with poise and composure. With a set guaranteed, both players relaxed, shrugging their shoulders and guiding Britain to an unlikely semi-final.

“I’m not sure about miracles or anything, but I thought we just enjoyed every moment we could and we enjoyed every moment,” Barnett said. “I enjoyed being at home and it was worth it. We all lost our voices because of it.”

Meanwhile, Jack Draper reached the semifinals of the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan after defeating second seed Lorenzo Musetti 4-1, 4-0, 4-3(3).

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