WTA Tour wrap: Jabeur dominates in Charleston as China and Argentina worry big guns in Billie Jean Cup
TOP seed Ons Jabeur has flexed her muscles with a 48-minute demolition job of Japan’s Nao Hibino to reach the semi-finals of the MUSC Health Women’s Open in Charleston. Jabeur only dropped one game in the 6-0 6-1 domination at the WTA 250 event to be the raging favourite in the tournament. The Tunisian restricted the Japanese talent to just 13 points on Hibino’s serve during the smashing, as she eyes off a potential maiden WTA Tour.
The 26-year-old is at a career-high 27th in the world and will surpass that, having had a huge last 18 months on the Tour. She will take on Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic who is also title-less at WTA Tour level, with the world number 65 upsetting third seed Shelby Rogers in straight sets. After a tight first set, Kovinic ran away with it in the second set to triumph 7-5 6-1 in 70 minutes.
Also moving through to the next round was Australian Astra Sharma who toppled 15-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova, 6-4 6-3 in an hour and 24 minutes. Sharma is ranked 165th in the world and yet to secure a singles title on Tour, though is eyeing off a return to the Top 100. She will take on Maria Camilla Osorio Serrano, who won against Danish teenager Clara Tauson, 6-4 1-0 before the latter was forced to retire from the quarter final.
MUSC HEALTH WOMEN’S OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:
 Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Nao Hibino (JPN) 6-0 6-1
Danka Kovinic (MNE) defeated  Shelby Rogers (USA) 7-5 6-1
Astra Sharma (AUS) defeated Linda Fruhvirtova (CZE) 6-4 6-3
Maria Camilla Osorio Serrano (COL) defeated Clara Tauson (DEN) 6-4 1-0 RET
BILLIE JEAN KING CUP
The return of the Billie Jean King Cup (formerly the Federation Cup) has got underway with the eight playoff matches taking place across the world. Three of them are locked at one match a piece after day one of three, with the other five going 2-0 in favour of the leader after the opening singles matches.
In Poland, Magdalena Frech got the home nation off to the perfect start against Brazil’s Carolina Meligeni Rodrigues Alves, with a one-hour and 28-minute win, 6-4 6-3. Brazil’s Laura Pigossi stunned Urszula Radwanska in the second match however, needing almost three hours to knock out the former Top 30 player, winning 7-6 3-6 6-2, including a whopping 11-9 opening set tiebreaker.
Argentina and Kazakhstan were also level after two singles matches, featuring some seriously high quality players. A stunning turnaround for Yulia Putintseva saw her take down French Open semi-finalist Nadia Podoroska in three sets, 2-6 6-4 6-0 to give the visitors the lead. However the biggest upset of perhaps the tournament was Maria Lourdes Carle three-set victory over Elena Rybakina. The 21-year-old Argentinian got the job done over the Top 20 talent in her home nation to level the tie at 1-1.
The other 1-1 tie is between Netherlands and China, with a full-strength Dutch side not having it all their own way against a young Chinese outfit. Despite playing on the indoor clay at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Dutch remain level with China despite Kiki Bertens‘ 6-2 6-0 rout of 19-year-old 146th ranked Wang Xinyu in the opening match of the tie. The tighter match was between the 83rd ranked Arantxa Rus and 134th ranked Wang Xiyu, with the 20-year-old getting it done against Rus, winning 6-1 3-6 6-2 in just under two hours.
Elsewhere, the ties all went 2-0, led by Elina Svitolina who has steered Ukraine to a dominant lead alongside 18-year-old Marta Kostyuk who feasted on an inexperienced and youthful Japanese outfit. Canada is upsetting Serbia after a day, with 30-year-old Rebecca Marino toppling Nina Stojanovic in straight sets 6-4 7-6, while Leylah Fernandez won in a three-set thriller over Olga Danilovic.
A full-strength Great Britain led by Heather Watson and Katie Boulter have cruised to a 2-0 lead over Mexico in London, while Jelena Ostapenko got more than she bargained for against Indian 174th ranked Ankita Raina, needing three sets and two hours and 25 minutes to grab the victory, before Anastasija Sevastova had an easy win over world number 621 Karman Kaur Thandi in the second match to lead Latvia to a 2-0 start. Finally, Italy is out to a 2-0 lead in Romania after Martina Trevisan won in three hours and seven minutes over Mihaela Buzarnescu, and Elisabetta Cocciaretto proved too good for Irina Maria Bara.
Picture credit: MUSC Health Women’s Open / Chris Smith