Fed Cup: Belgium leads Italy 2-0 in World Group playoffs

GENOA, Italy (AP) Belgium is firmly in control of its Fed Cup World Group playoff against Italy after Elise Mertens and Alison van Uytvanck gave it a 2-0 lead in Genoa on Saturday.

Mertens eased past Jasmine Paolini 6-1, 7-5. Paolini, who had never faced a top-20 player before, gained confidence as the match wore on and Mertens had to save a set point.

It was more difficult for Van Uytvanck in the second singles rubber, but she prevailed against Sara Errani 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-2.

Errani struggled with her serve, hitting 17 double faults to Van Uytvanck's four, and at one point was given a time violation warning from the umpire after catching three service tosses in succession.

Errani managed to stave off match point to take the second set but Van Uytvanck ultimately clinched her 12th Fed Cup singles victory in her past 13 matches.

Updated April 21, 2018