Johanna Konta Levels Fed Cup Play-Off After Osaka Beats Watson - UBITENNIS
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Fed Cup

Johanna Konta Levels Fed Cup Play-Off After Osaka Beats Watson

Naomi Osaka beat Watson 6-2 6-3, then Johanna Konta levelled for Great Britain in the Fed Cup Play-Off with a 6-4 6-2 win over Nara.

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Johanna Konta played superbly to beat Kurumi Nara 6-4 6-2 and level the score in Great Britain’s Fed Cup World Cup Group II Play-Off with Japan.

It was an impressive display of nerve from the British No.1, who had to win the match to ensure her team retained a realistic chance of victory in the tie after Naomi Osaka overpowered Heather Watson 6-2 6-3 in the first match.

Konta started the match in ideal fashion. She signalled her intentions by hitting a huge backhand return to win the first point, followed that with an excellent forehand winner and sealed the break when Nara hit a backhand long.

The Japanese player got almost everything back in the next game, and at one stage the British No.1 hit two consecutive aces as she was forced to save three break points in order to hold serve.

Amazingly, the five break points in the opening two games were the only ones in the set. Both Konta and Nara served well and struck their groundstrokes with skill and purpose, and the score rattled along to 5-4 in Britain’s favour without any drama.

Then the nerves kicked in for the British No.1. She breezed to 40-15 on her serve, but double faulted and hit a backhand long to let her Japanese opponent back into the game.

Konta earned two more set points with big serves and powerful backhands, and took the second after a forehand from Nara went just wide.

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Despite its more emphatic scoreline, the second set was closely fought and the British No.1 had to draw on all her qualities to win it.

Konta came out on top in a seemingly endless stream of long rallies to break twice in the first three games after they all went to deuce.

However, Nara turned the tables in game four by breaking back during another tight game. She then held serve to put the British No.1 under pressure.

At this stage of the match, Konta found another gear. She held serve comfortably and then hit a series of superb backhands to regain the double break, before holding again with ease to close out the match.

“(Nara) definitely used the energy of the crowd,” said Konta in her on-court interview. “She made it really hard for me out there.”

The Brit continued, “I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy match and that I was going to have to earn my way to get an opportunity to come through as the winner today.”

Great Britain Fed Cup captain Anne Keothavong was understandably pleased with Konta’s performance.

“Jo put in a fantastic performance,” she said in her on-court interview. “She kept a high level. I thought her opponent was also able to raise her level, but Jo was just too good.”

Osaka overpowers Watson

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Osaka produced an excellent performance to beat Watson in straight sets. The Japanese used all her power to hit several huge serves and plenty of spectacular groundstrokes.

The British No.2 initially coped well. She used her defensive abilities to great effect to make Osaka play extra balls and almost earned a break in game three. However, the Japanese saved the break point with an ace.

The Brit made life difficult for herself in game four when she made two errors and a double fault to slip down 0-40. She recovered to 30-40, but Osaka hammered a forehand winner down the line to seal the break.

And the Japanese No.1 never looked back. She blazed through her next two service games in the blink of an eye to lead 5-2, and then Watson double-faulted twice to give her the game she needed to seal the set.

The British No.2 made a good start to the first game of the second set and earned two break points, but Osaka did not give her any chance to capitalise on them as she thundered down two aces and another huge serve to set up the hold.

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Watson saved two break points in the next game with some well-judged aggression and an excellent forehand winner, but it was only a temporary respite.

The Brit was unable to cope with Osaka’s powerful groundstrokes and, although she fought hard during a long game, the Japanese eventually got the break she wanted with three fantastic winners in succession.

Watson kept it to one break and threw everything she had at Osaka as she tried to break the Japanese No.1 when she was serving for the match.

But ultimately it was not enough, as Osaka saved two break points with brilliant backhand winners before taking her second match point when the British No.2 netted a forehand.

“I was really relieved I was able to win because this is my first Fed Cup tie here,” said Osaka in her on-court interview. “I really wanted to win and make everyone happy.”

Fed Cup

Sorana Cirstea Announces Fed Cup Retirement, WTA Stars Prepare For 2019

Sorana Cirstea announces her Fed Cup retirement as WTA stars prepare for the 2019 season.

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Sorana Cirstea (zimbio.com)

World number 85 Sorana Cirstea has announced her retirement from Fed Cup after competing in the competition for 12 years.

The Romanian first made her debut when she was just 16 years old when she competed against Sweden in Zone Group I Europe/Africa.

Since then Cirstea has won 16 of her 29 Fed Cup rubbers but has now announced that it is time to move on and wishes the team the best of luck for the future.

“I feel like I have done my duty. And now is the time to pass the relay baton onto the new generation,” Cirstea said on her Facebook page.

“I would like to thank my teammates, the Federation, the captains, the coaches and everyone who was involved in our success, and especially the Romanian crowd that has been supporting me over the years.”

The 28 year-old will look to now improve her ranking after a disappointing 2018 season which included a 17-25 win-loss record.

WTA Starts Prepare For 2019

Meanwhile other WTA players have been preparing for the new season, which officially begins in 16 days. Here is some of the best action from the off-season so far:

Caroline Wozniacki 

The Dane decided to use her off-season to improve her tennis with a certain 23 time grand slam champion:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BrGQjLaAkZN/

Aryna Sabalenka

The Belarusian rising star had an amazing 2018 season and is using unique training methods to improve further next season:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BrR8iX4jumH/

Garbine Muguruza

Despite an underwhelming 2018 season, the Spaniard has been practicing in California to get ready for the 2019 season:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BrRSeoClwvx/

Julia Goerges

Practice is perfect in Julia Goerges’ case as she looks to expand on her Wimbledon semi-final:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BrC8jJnBO_w/

Naomi Osaka

The US Open champion is getting ready for the new season in Los Angeles as she looks to gain even more fans in 2019:

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bq-7699gldE/

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Fed Cup

VIDEO: Was It A Wise Choice For Denis Shapovalov To Skip The Next Gen Finals?

Ubitennis founder Ubaldo Scanagatta speaks with John Horn about the Canadian rising star.

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Last week saw Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas add to his title collection at the Next Gen Finals in Milan, but one notable absentee from the tournament was Denis Shapovalov.

The 19-year-old is the youngest player inside the world’s top 100 at 27th and the fourth highest ranked among the Next Generation. A group of upcoming players under the age of 21. Shapovalov opted to end his season early due to exhaustion. Ubitennis analyses Shapovalov’s decision and looks ahead to what the future could have in store for him.

 

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Fed Cup

Katerina Siniakova saves two match points to secure the 11th Fed Cup title for

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Katerina Siniakova secured the decivive 3-0 point to earn Czech Republic its 11th Fed Cup title and its 6th triumph in the past eight seasons at this event since 2011. Siniakova had to save two match point at 4-5 in the third set to beat US Sofia Kenin 7-5 5-7 7-5 in the third singles match to the delight of the enthusiastic Czech fans, who packed the O2 Arena in Prague.

Siniakova scored her second singles win this weekend after beating Alison Riske on Saturday.

Siniakova converted her first break chance and went up a double break early in the first set. Kenin got back on serve at 1-2 in a 10-minute game before breaking again in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Sinakova bounced back by breaking serve once more. Kenin converted on her break point at deuce at 3-5 down before drawing level to 5-5. Siniakova reeled off five consecutive games to build up a 7-5 3-0 lead, but Kenin came back from 15-40 down to win her first game of the second set. The US teenager broke twice in a row in the fifth and seventh games. Siniakova pulled the break back for 4-5 with a series of backhand winners. Kerer broke again at love in the 11th game to take a 6-5 lead before sealing the second set on the fourth set point.

Siniakova saved three break points in the first game of the decider before breaking serve on her second chance. The Czech player consolidated the break with a hold to build up a 3-0 lead.

Siniakova fended off four break points to hold serve for 4-1 in a 19-minute marathon fifth game. Kenin fought back by winning four consecutive games thanks to two consecutive breaks in the seventh and ninth games to take a 5-4 lead, but she fired the ball beyond the baseline twice from 40-15 and failed to convert her two match points. Siniakova reeled off six points in a row from 0-40 down at 5-5. Siniakova got the final break of the match in the 12th game to seal a thrilling win after 3 hours and 44 minutes, when Kenin sent her forehand into the tramlines. The Czech team celebrated the fourth of their six titles since 2011 at the O2 Arena in Prague.

Siniakova scored the third win in four singles Fed Cup rubbers. She hit 4 aces and won 56 percent of her first serve points. Kenin hit 42 winners but she made 76 unforced errors.

Czech Republic ended a 8-match losing streak against the USA at Fed Cup level.

Petr Pala has won his sixth title as captain of the Czech Fed Cup team. He boasts an impressive 24-4 win-loss record in the 28 Fed Cup matches where he took charge of the Czech team.

The US team captained by Kathy Rinaldi did not defend their title won in 2017, but they featured a young team with three players Danielle Collins, Sofia Kenin and Nicole Melichar, who made their debut at this event this weekend.

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