Storm, Ajla blast Aussies to BJK Cup semis

Storm Sanders and Ajla Tomljanovic have swept Australia into the semi-finals of the Billie Jean King Cup in Glasgow, full of belief they can now end their country's 48-year-wait to lift the World Cup of women's tennis.

The pair, who had both won their singles matches in Tuesday's victory over Slovakia, again produced the goods to seal a 3-0 whitewash of Belgium in Thursday's winner-takes-all group decider.

The inspired Sanders also won her doubles rubber alongside the evergreen Sam Stosur as Alicia Molik's team reached the last-four for the second year running.

Yet they reckon this week's run in Scotland feels different to Prague last year.

"We are in a better position coming into the semis this time, like more confident, where we believe like we can actually win," said their No.1 Tomljanovic after defeating her Belgian counterpart Elise Mertens, who retired injured when trailing 3-0 in the deciding set.

"Last year we were, like, 'Wow, we made the semis, what a great achievement'. This year it feels a little bit different, as it should. We have showed really great tennis to get ourselves there. Feels good to be in that position."

Sanders, a lowly No.237 in the world, appeared once again to be buoyed by the singles responsibility for her country as she blew away Alison Van Uytvanck 6-2 6-2 to put Australia one-up.

Then Australia's top player Tomljanovic stayed tough to extinguish Belgium's last hope, wearing down Mertens, who had begun in blistering fashion by taking the opening stanza 6-4 and going 4-1 up with a double break in the second.

But Mertens, having jetted in on a marathon, three-flight journey from Texas to Glasgow following her WTA Finals doubles triumph, began to struggle with double-fault trouble and discomfort from her hurt shoulder.

Tomljanovic levelled the match 6-4 before reeling off three more games - eight in a row in all - before Mertens, who'd needed treatment on her racquet arm, called it a day.

With the tie now already decided, Sanders then returned to the Emirates Arena hardcourt, teaming up with 38-year-old Stosur to beat Ysaline Bonaventure and Kirsten Flipkens 6-4 6-3 in the doubles.

In the semi-finals, as they seek to win the event formerly known as the Fed Cup for the first time since 1974, Australia will face hosts Great Britain who beat Spain 3-0.

Doubles top-tenner Sanders may not have won a singles in a WTA tour main draw all year but she admits donning the green and gold somehow raises her game.

Against world No.54 Van Uytvanck, she made a nonsense of the rankings, dominating with excellent serving and her powerful forehand.

"It was actually a tough match, and playing for your country, it's quite emotional," said Sanders, who had also beaten Slovakia's Viktoria Kuzmova in Australia's opening win.

"(Playing for Australia) just brings out the best in me. I just use the support that we have on the sidelines and from home, channel that energy and use it in a positive way on court."

Sanders' attacking approach saw her sweep through the first set in just 23 minutes, but the key was a marathon first game of the second stanza in which the new 'Rockhampton Rocket' - she hails from Rod Laver's home town - saved five break points before a crucial hold.

After that, the Storm wouldn't blow out, as she crashed 18 winners while earning her fourth BJK Cup singles win in just five matches.

Great Britain's remarkable whitewash of five-time champions Spain ensured they qualified for the last four of the competition for the first time in 41 years.