HYOGO, JAPAN: Japan returned to World Group II in the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas on Sunday behind the strong play of Ayumi Morita, who gave her nation an insurmountable 3-0 lead with a 62 61 triumph over Argentina's Aranza Salut in the opening reverse singles match of their promotion play-off tie at Bourbon Beans Dome.
Salut replaced Maria Irigoyen for the match after Argentina captain Bettina Fulco decided to make the switch in hopes of turning the tie around.
It was a comprehensive victory for Japan's No. 1 Morita, who broke Salut in the second and fifth games of the first set, and completed the win in 57 minutes. Japan will return to World Group II play next year for the first time since 2008.
Morita, who defeated Auroux in straight sets on Saturday, once again displayed a powerful two-handed backhand that she used with precision throughout the match.
Salut earned a break point in the fourth game of the first set, but was unable to convert as Morita battled back and stayed in control. The Argentine put up a game effort, but just could not deal with the combination of speed and power that Morita featured.
World No. 47 Morita got 79 percent of her first serves in during the match, while Salut could only manage 60.
"As the team ace I wanted to try and finish it off for us today," said Morita. "My opponent's serve and forehand were good, but I was confident in my play.
"I'm sure next year the matches will be tough in World Group II," Morita stated. "Both me and my teammates will have to improve our skills and rankings."
"It was a tough match," said Salut. "She is ranked much higher than me and is more experienced. I really understand from this match that I need more experience."
Salut admitted that Morita's game presented challenges for her.
"The combination of her flat shots and speed made it very difficult for me," Salut noted.
With the ITF's dead-rubber policy in effect for the tie due to power-saving measures in Japan, the second reverse singles match between Misaki Doi and Mailen Auroux was not played.
Rika Fujiwara and Kurumi Nara beat Maria Irigoyen and Mailen Auroux 61 63 in the doubles to make the final margin of victory 4-0 for Japan.
"It was an outstanding performance by our players," Japan captain Takeshi Murami said. "We were under pressure to win and we fought hard for the victory."
"The result was quite disappointing for us," said Fulco. "The rankings and ability between us and the Japanese players in this tie were much different."
The tie was originally scheduled to be played in April, but was postponed in the wake of the March 11 disaster in northern Japan.
Ayumi Morita (JPN) - 17/07/2011
Rika Fujiwara (JPN) - 17/07/2011