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

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

Australia Down Belarus In Thriller To End 26-Year Wait For Fed Cup Final

It is joy for the Aussies and heartbreak for Belarus in Brisbane.

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The Australian Fed Cup team (photo via https://twitter.com/FedCup)

The Australian duo of Ashleigh Barty and Sam Stosur has guided their country into the final of the Fed Cup for the first time since 1993 after a dramatic final day of their clash with Belarus.

 

Australia, who last won the team competition back in 1974, was pushed to their limits at the Pat Rafter Arena with the final match of the tie deciding their fate. After day one, they were held at 1-1 by Belarus. A team compromising of two-time grand slam champion Victoria Azarenka and world No.10 Aryna Sabalenka.

Barty gave the home favourites an initial 2-1 advantage after she disposed of Sabalenka 6-2, 6-2. A player who she lost to twice during the second half of the 2018 season. However, Azarenka revived Belarus’ chances immediately with an emphatic 6-1, 6-1, win over tour veteran Stosur. Making it her first victory in the competition since 2016.

With all to play for, it was the doubles match that separated the two. During a roller coaster encounter, Barty and Stosur prevailed 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, over their rivals. Breaking twice in the decider on route to securing the overall 3-2 victory.

“It’s just super-exciting now to be in the Fed Cup final,” Stosur told fedcup.com afterwards. “All the girls, we work so hard throughout the year, and we really stick together as a team, Fed Cup weeks or not Fed Cup weeks. We’ve always got each others back, so to be in the Fed Cup final not I think a great reward for both of us, and we’re going to give it our best shot here in November.”

Team captain Alicia Molik has hailed the performance of her team. This year was the first time Australia has contested a semi-final of the competition since 2014. The country ranks third on the all-time list for more trophies won, but have failed to gain success in recent decades.

“It was just an incredible weekend,” Australian captain Molik reflected.
“We hadn’t exactly planned for it to come to the doubles, yet we were prepared. We got to that position, and I was really pleased today with both the outputs of Ash – it was phenomenal tennis out there – and Sam gave it her best.
“You can just see the joy in our faces too – winning that doubles rubber, what it means. We’re now in the final. I’m just so proud.”

In November’s final Australia will play either France or Romania.

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Fed Cup

Yulia Putintseva Saves Three Match Points To Keep Kazakhstan Alive Against Great Britain

Yulia Putintseva once again brought the drama as she saved Kazakhstan from being 2-0 down against Great Britain.

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Yulia Putintseva (@bbctennis - Twitter)

Yulia Putintseva saved three match points to defeat Katie Boulter 3-6 6-2 7-6(6) and level the tie for Kazakhstan against Great Britain.

 

In a match where there were injuries, passion and lots of drama, Putintseva saved three match points to level the tie for Kazakhstan.

Despite having a 4-0 lead in the deciding set, Boulter couldn’t close out the match as Great Britain are pegged back heading into the second day.

Earlier in the day Johanna Konta edged out Zarina Diyas 4-6 6-3 6-2 to give the hosts the lead in their World Group II Play-Off tie.

It was a good start from the Brit as she timed the ball to perfection as the Kazakh had no answers in the opening set. Two breaks at the end of the set sealed a positive start for Boulter, who was feeding off the crowd’s enthusiasm.

However the second set was a very different story as the Brit struggled with a knee injury as Putintseva took a more aggressive approach to proceedings.

Three games in a row against a cautious Boulter saw the world number 38 force a deciding set, which was sealed by an ace.

The final set saw Boulter time the ball exceptionally well again and overpower forehands with some aggressive forehands.

A 4-0 lead seemingly saw the Brit cruising but back came the controversial Kazakh as she managed to rescue one of the breaks of serve.

In nervy circumstances the world number 86 couldn’t hold her nerve when serving for the match at 5-3 as Putintseva pushed to force a final set tiebreak.

After one match point disappearing in the eleventh game, Boulter remained aggressive to create two more chances to seal the match.

But never count out Putintseva and four points in a row thanks to some gutsy play saw the Kazakh take the match in over two and a half hours as Britain sense an opportunity missed.

It is a gutting loss for Britain, who should have a commanding 2-0 lead but instead have been pegged back at 1-1. The match is level after Johanna Konta edged out Zarina Diyas in the first rubber.

After controversy with the Kazakh’s fans trombone and trumpets, the Brit kept her cool to seal a crucial rubber for the hosts.

Tomorrow Johanna Konta will face Yulia Putintseva, with Katie Boulter, if 100%, playing Zarina Diyas. If the singles are once again split, then a deciding doubles rubber will decide the outcome of the tie.

Great Britain are looking to enter the top two tiers of Women’s Tennis for the first time in 28 years.

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Fed Cup

Impressive Barty Puts Australia Back On Track In Brisbane Against Belarus

Ashleigh Barty produced some high-quality tennis to level the tie for Australia against Belarus in their semi-final.

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Ashleigh Barty (@TennisAustralia - Twitter)

Ashleigh Barty once again produced an impressive performance as she defeated Victoria Azarenka 7-6(2) 6-3 to level the tie for Australia. 

 

The Miami Open champion was impressive in the big moments as she levelled the tie for Australia against Belarus in their World Group semi-final.

Despite Azarenka’s resilience and great returning, the 21 year-old from Brisbane held on to seal the victory in front of her home fans.

Earlier in the day Aryna Sabalenka battled past Sam Stosur 7-5 5-7 6-3 in 2 hours and 51 minutes to give Belarus an early lead.

It was a pressure situation for Barty in heavy conditions as she looked to keep Australia’s hopes of reaching a first Fed Cup final since 1993 alive.

Keeping the unforced errors down and powerful returns was the key for the Belarusian to stay competitive in this contest.

However Azarenka’s serve let her down on occasions which allowed Barty to get back into the match in very heavy conditions in Brisbane.

After two breaks of serve each it was the Australian who played a flawless tiebreak to seal the first set and the home favourite only went from strength to strength.

Another three breaks of serve in the second set sealed the victory and set up a fantastic second day of action in this semi-final.

After the match Australian captain Alicia Molik couldn’t have been any prouder of her team’s efforts, “She backs herself in the big moments,” Molik explained to fedcup.com.

“When the occasion is there she’s prepared to play big…. She shone through at the right moments. I’m happy with where we’re sitting in terms of one win all. I thought Sam was brilliant today. That’s all I could have asked from her, I think she put out a great display.”

The earlier match saw Aryna Sabalenka battle past a gritty Sam Stosur in nearly three hours as she gave the Belarusians the early lead.

This means that day two is set up perfectly as world number nine Ashleigh Barty will face world number ten Aryna Sabalenka in the first match tomorrow.

Daria Gavrilova and Aliaksandra Sasnovich may be brought into the fourth rubber before a doubles rubber will decide who reaches the Fed Cup Final.

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