Great Britain Suffer Fed Cup Heartbreak In Japan - UBITENNIS
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Great Britain Suffer Fed Cup Heartbreak In Japan

Great Britain lost their Fed Cup Play-Off 3-2 to Japan after defeat in the deciding doubles. Konta beat Osaka and Watson lost to Nara.

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Great Britain missed their chance to qualify for the Fed Cup World Group for the first time since 1993 as they lost their Play-Off 3-2 to Japan.

 

It was 1-1 going into the second day, and the scores stayed level after Johanna Konta beat Naomi Osaka 6-3 6-3 and Kurumi Nara defeated Heather Watson 7-6(7) 6-4.

Konta and Watson then lost the deciding doubles 6-3 3-6 3-6 to Miyu Kato and Makoto Ninomiya to ensure their long wait to return to the elite 16 of the Fed Cup goes on.

“We are gutted about the result. One day our opportunity will come,” Great Britain captain Anne Keothavong told BBC Sport.

“If you keep knocking on the door, it will eventually open. It wasn’t to be this year but who is to say it won’t be next year?”

“We have to recognise the effort we have put in the last two years getting out of the zone,” Konta added. “People underestimate the task it is to get out of that Euro-Africa group.”

“Some of the best nations are in that group, when you look at the depth of the other zonal groups around the world. I’m very proud of the fact we keep putting ourselves in this position.”

Konta shines

Britain started the day in fine style as Konta produced a stunning display to beat Indian Wells champion Osaka in straight sets.

The 2017 Wimbledon semi-finalist struck the ball accurately and aggressively and remained rock-solid on her serve throughout as she won 74% of points on her first serve and 59% behind her second.

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This ensured Konta only faced two break points in the match. It also enabled her to swing freely against Osaka’s serve, and in game seven she did exactly that.

After the Japanese double-faulted, the Briton crunched a forehand to draw an error. She then twice pinned Osaka behind the baseline with a series of very deep groundstrokes to earn break point and seal the break.

It was a crucial moment for Konta, and she rode a wave of momentum for the rest of the match. She broke the Japanese again in game nine to finish the first set, and maintained her intensity in the second set to take it 6-3.

Watson falters

Unfortunately for Britain, Watson was unable to capitalise on her teammate’s excellent win as she lost to Nara in disappointing fashion.

It was comfortably the lowest-quality match of the tie as neither player was able to exert any kind of control on their serve.

After Watson and Nara both broke twice in the opening seven games, the Briton earned a chance to serve for the set by getting a third break in game eight.

However, Watson has lost nine of her last 11 matches and her lack of confidence showed as she played the game very poorly to lose her serve to love.

The Briton’s failure to close out the set led to a tie-break, and she seemed determined to put her troubles behind as she hit a couple of excellent winners en route to a 6-3 lead.

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But the good times did not last as Watson was unable to take any of her three set points and ultimately lost the tie-break 9-7.

She looked understandably dejected by that outcome and rapidly fell 3-0 behind in the second set. The Briton recovered well to level the score, but once again she failed to take advantage of the momentum.

Watson made a sloppy error and a double-fault to gift Nara two break points in game eight. She saved one with a big serve, but surrendered the second with a poor backhand that went wide.

Nara’s nerves defeated her and she handed the Briton a two break points and a lifeline in the match. Watson grabbed the second with a brilliant backhand into the corner.

But there was one last cruel twist left as Nara played good, aggressive tennis to break the British No.2 for the sixth time in the match and clinch a vital win for Japan.

Doubles disappointment

That put all of the pressure on the final doubles rubber, and the greater doubles experience of Kato and Ninomiya made all the difference in the end as they fought back from a set down to win.

Konta and Watson produced some excellent tennis to come back from 0-2 and win the first set 6-3. The higher-ranked Briton served well and her partner looked sharp at the net.

However, Konta and Watson made a terrible start to the second set and slipped down 5-0. The British pair got one break back but the damage had been done and the confidence of the Japanese pair rose steadily as they took the second set 6-3.

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The deciding set was close and went with serve for the first six games. However, Kato and Ninomiya nearly gained the advantage in game five when they earned four break points.

They did not manage to break through on that occasion, but Konta and Watson should have heeded the warning as they went on to lose their next two service games and, consequently, the match and the tie.

 

 

 

Fed Cup

Fed Cup To Have A New Format From 2020

Details about the changes to the historic competition has been announced.

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Federation Cup (foto via Twitter, @FedCup)

The International Tennis Federation has confirmed that home and away finals will be removed from Fed Cup competition in favour of a week-long tournament taking place in a neutral location.

 

From 2020, the women’s team tournament will follow in the footsteps of the Davis Cup, which underwent a controversial revamp last year. Under the new structure, 12 teams will play in the finals over six days during April. However, home and away ties will still be used in the play-in rounds that will take place during February.

A total of $18 million worth of prize money will be available. The winners of the competition will receive $1.2M for their national federation and an additional $3.2M for players. In comparison, those who reach the group stages will receive $300,000 and $500,000 retrospectively. Overall, $12M will be awarded to players and $6M to national associations.

“The launch of the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas finals will create a festival of tennis that elevates the flagship women’s team competition to a new level, yet remains loyal to the historic core of the Fed Cup.” Said ITF President David Haggerty.
“We have consulted and listened to stakeholders and worked with the WTA and its player council to make sure the new format represents the interests of the players.” He added.

The Hungarian capital of Budapest will be the venue of the newly formatted finals between 2020-2022. It will be held at the László Papp Budapest Sports Arena on two clay courts. The competition will be played in a round-robin format with four groups of three. The winner of each group would then progress to the semi-finals.

Besides the February ties, two countries will be handed wild cards into the finals. Hungary will be one of them and another country is yet to be confirmed. Hungary hasn’t played in the top tier of the competition since 2002. This year’s finalists, Australia and France, have also been given direct entry into the finals.

“Fed Cup has evolved since I was part of the first winning team in 1963 but it has always remained true to its roots.” Said Fed Cup ambassador Billie Jean King.
“These reforms are historic as they reflect the ITF’s commitment to unlocking the Fed Cup huge potential, hosting a competition with prize money deserving of the world’s best women’s teams and players. It is an honour to be part of the next evolution of the greatest event in women’s tennis.”

Not all in favour

Earlier this week Simona Halep confirmed that she will stop playing in the Fed Cup should the format change. Countries like Romania now only have a 50% chance of hosting one Fed Cup tie every year over the next three years.

“I love the Fed Cup and I would never change that,” the former world No.1 told reporters earlier this week.
“If Fed Cup changes I won’t play any more. I like the format now so if they change, it will be tough because Fed Cup means to play home and away.”

Halep’s comments were backed by Karolina Pliskova, who represents the Czech Republic. A team who has won the title six times since 2011. Pliskova played in the final of the competition in 2015 and 2016.

“I think they should not change, because especially for smaller countries like Czech Republic, I think this is something that they always look forward to,” said Pliskova.
“We don’t have many (home) tournaments. We have just one. For Romania, they have maybe one tournament too.
“It’s huge when Simona is playing there. So I understand that if she’s playing somewhere else, you don’t feel the same.”

 

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Fed Cup

Simona Halep Threatens To Boycott Fed Cup If Revamp Takes Place

The 27-year-old has criticised proposals to change the format of the team competition.

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Simona Halep (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Former world No.1 Simona Halep has said she will stop playing in the Fed Cup if the International Tennis Federation removes home and away ties from the competition.

 

In recent months there has been speculation that the women’s team event will soon follow the path of the Davis Cup, which has undergone a controversial reform. Where the finals will take place at the end of a year over a week in a neutral location. The driving force behind the changes to the Davis Cup is Kosmos. An investment company founded by Barcelona footballer Gerald Pique. Kosmos has pledged to invest $3 billion over 25 years.

“I love the Fed Cup and I would never change that,” Reuters News quoted Halep as telling reporters in Eastbourne on Monday.
“If Fed Cup changes I won’t play any more. I like the format now so if they change, it will be tough because Fed Cup means to play home and away.”

Halep helped guide Romania to the semi-finals of the Fed Cup this year in what has been their best performance since 1973. Overall, she has won 22 out of 32 matches played since her debut back in 2010.

“To play at home, it’s the best feeling,” she said.
“I’ve played many years in Fed Cup and the best feeling is to be at home with all the people that come to support and also away you have to manage the emotions and the pressure.”

Earlier this month, ITF president Davis Haggerty vowed to revamp the Fed Cup in order to keep it in line with the men’s equivalent. Although he hasn’t outline an exact date as to when this will take place. Haggerty is seeking re-election this year and has outlined his plans in his manifesto.

“Fed Cup reform is a key focus of the Board in 2019, with the ambition to implement a similar Fed Cup World Cup of Tennis with a minimum of 16 teams in the World Group 2020 and to play one round of qualifying and an eight or 12-team Fed Cup Final in April 2020 in one location. This also aligns with the ITF Gender Equality initiative that we introduced in 2018 and continues to ensure tennis is a welcoming sport.” Sport Business quoted Haggerty as saying.

On Thursday an announcement is expected to be made about the future of the Fed Cup by the ITF in a press conference.

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Fed Cup

After 26 Years Of Heartbreak, Great Britain Finally Secures Fed Cup Promotion

After losing four play-off ties since 2011, the British team have finally scored the breakthrough they desired.

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Johanna Konta (image via https://twitter.com/the_LTA)

A duo of hard fought singles victories in London has made history for British Tennis after the Fed Cup team defeated Kazakhstan to reach the World Group stage for the first time since 1993.

 

Tied at 1-1 after the first day, Johanna Konta and Katie Boulter prevailed in both of their matches to hand Great Britain an overall 3-1 win over their opponents. The proceedings were opened up on Sunday by former top 10 player Konta. Taking on Yania Putintseva, Konta battled to an epic 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory. After dropping the opening set, she was then forced to recover from a 1-4 deficit in the decider to score the crucial victory. Putintseva, who was struggling physically during the match, is only the fourth top 50 player Konta has defeated so far in 2019.

“As a young girl, as an athlete wanting to make it to the top of my sport… you can only dream of this stuff.” She said during an interview with BT Sport. “Gosh that was one hell of a match wasn’t it?”

Following on from Konta’s heroics, it was Boulter’s chance to seal an unassailable lead for her country in the tie. Boulter wasn’t born until three years after her country was last in the World Group of the Fed Cup. The 22-year-old was out to seek redemption after squandering three match points on Saturday during her loss to Putintseva.

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This time round Boulter didn’t crumble when under pressure. Like teammate Konta, she roared back from a set down to defeat Zarina Diyas 6-7(1), 6-4, 6-1. Winning 67% of her first service points and breaking her opponent’s serve six times throughout the match.

“I was trying to get one win for the team, Johanna did a great job, I was just trying to make them proud today,” she told BT Sport.
“I showed yesterday how much it meant, I was so close but today I bounced back and got the win.
“We go again!!”

The triumph comes after what has been years of heartbreak for the British camp. Prior to 2019, they have been on the verge of reaching World Group II of the Fed Cup four times in seven years. Only to lose all of their play-off ties. Making their victory over Kazakhstan even more sweeter.

“Amazing. Just a heroic effort from the players this week, some fantastic tennis.” Team captain Anne Keothavong commented.
“Everyone here has been part of our journey and this has been an unforgettable weekend.
“Jo’s effort. coming back from behind, to Katie today. I think they have inspired a lot of people.”

Besides their new status, the contingent of player’s are hoping that their performances will help inspire the next generation. At present, there are five British players in the top 200 on the WTA Tour. Three of which are under the age of 22 (Boulter, Harriet Dart and Katie Swan).

“I hope that we have inspired a lot of kids here (in London) today to play tennis or do whatever they want to do.” Said team member Heather Watson.

It remains to be seen what is next for the Brits with the possibility of the Fed Cup changing its format. From next year there is a chance that the world group could be turned into a 12-team format. If this happened, Britain is likely to make that group thanks to their latest win.

https://twitter.com/the_LTA/status/1120012995508285440

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