TOKYO, April 13 — Naomi Osaka was not required to play after team-mate Nao Hibino sent Japan to their first Billie Jean King Cup finals today with an unassailable 3-0 qualifying lead over Kazakhstan.

Former world number one and four-time major winner Osaka was appearing at the competition for the first time since 2020 and won her opening singles game yesterday.

But she did not need to play a second time after Hibino clinched Japan’s spot in November’s finals with a hard-fought 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (9/7) win over world number 50 Yulia Putintseva.

Hibino fended off four straight match points for Putintseva before coming back to win the third-set tiebreaker.


It was the world number 79’s second singles victory of the tie after dispatching Anna Danilina 6-1, 6-0 in under an hour on the opening day.

Osaka beat Putintseva 6-2, 7-6 (7/5) yesterday, hitting 15 aces and no double faults.

It was her first match in Japan since appearing at the Pan Pacific Open in September 2022.


Kazakhstan were without world number four Elena Rybakina, who lost in the final of the Miami Open last month.

The BJK Cup finals will be held in Seville. — AFP