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Great Britain shock Spain 3-0 to reach the Billie Jean King Cup quarter-finals | Tennis

Returning to the Emirates Arena on Thursday for an essential and decisive tie against Spain, there were only two options left for the Great Britain team in the Billie Jean King Cup final: win every game or go home.

With their backs against the wall, they rose to the occasion and pulled off the British women’s team’s greatest achievement in years, defeating Spain 3-0 to reach the BJK Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1981. Australia in the semi-final on Saturday.

After Heather Watson opened the tie by demolishing Nuria Parrizas-Diaz 6-0, 6-2, Harriet Dart stared at world No.13 Paula Badosa and produced perhaps the best display of her career, prevailing 6 -3, 6- 4 to force a decisive doubles rubber.

The debuting pair of doubles specialists Olivia Nicholls and Alicia Barnett stayed on to play a semifinal in their first live match, a situation they handled in spectacular fashion by beating Aliona Bolsova and Rebeka Masarova 7-6(5), 6- 2 to ensure the victory of their lives.

“It’s a momentous time,” said Anne Keothavong, the GB captain. “We’re lucky to be in this competition for reasons that everyone knows, but then to deliver and make it to the semis, I mean, it’s amazing. Really is. It depends on the players. The way they approached the game today, yeah, just amazing.”

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

The decision was totally worth it. Watson, currently ranked 115th in the world, was flawless. The 30-year-old played bold, attacking tennis with minimal mistakes, finishing off the Spaniard in just 67 minutes.

Harriet Dart defeated Paula Badosa 6-3, 6-4 to force a decisive win for Great Britain. Photograph: Ed Sykes/Action Images/Reuters

On paper, the biggest challenger in the tie was Badosa, who was ranked No. 2 in the world earlier this year. Dart, ranked 98th, had been completely dominated 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, grabbing the ball early, stealing time from Badosa and refusing to back down. Badosa played poorly, but throughout the second set she put a lot of pressure on Dart’s serve. Dart navigated numerous difficult service games, remaining confident that he could win with his front foot as he closed out a career win from him.

“Honestly, Heather’s game inspired me a lot,” Dart said. “I am very proud to represent my country, to be able to perform at home in front of a local audience as well. There is nothing more special than that.”

Two days ago, the 29-year-old Barnett and 28-year-old Nicholls were delighted to mark their debut with a deadlock victory against Kazakhstan. As two former college players who have spent most of their time on the ITF Circuit, nothing in their careers fully prepared them for such an important match.

They handled the occasion with ease. They were precise from the first point, then moved through a tense first-set tiebreak with poise and composure. With a set secured, both players relaxed, opening their shoulders as they guided Great Britain to an unlikely semi-final.

“I’m not sure about miracles or anything, but I thought we just took every moment we could and enjoyed every moment,” Barnett said. “I enjoyed being home and it was worth it. We’ve 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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