Tokyo, April 27: Former world number one Amelie Mauresmo outclassed Ai Sugiyama to give France an insurmountable 3-0 lead over Japan and secure a return to the Fed Cup World Group on Sunday.
The 2006 Wimbledon champion needed only 74 minutes to secure a straightforward 6-1, 6-4 victory over the former world doubles number one in the best-of-five contest. On Saturday, Mauresmo overwhelmed up-and-coming teenager Ayumi Morita 6-0, 6-2, while Japan Open champion Virginie Razzano fended off a late challenge by Sugiyama 6-1, 7-5. France also beat Japan 5-0 in last year's World Group first round tie in Limoges, France. In eight Fed Cup meetings they have only lost once to Japan, in 1973.
France were in the relegation play-offs after surprisingly going down 3-2 to China in February. Mauresmo was not playing in that tie.