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

Emma Raducanu Believes Clay Could Be ‘One Of Her Strongest’ Surfaces

The world No.12 is yet to play a Tour event on the clay but she has high hopes for the future.

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Emma Raducanu reacts during a Women's Singles quarterfinal match at the 2021 US Open, Wednesday, Sep. 8, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Garrett Ellwood/USTA)

US Open champion Emma Raducanu may still be relatively new to the WTA Tour but she believes the upcoming clay swing could help provide her with the foundations to shine on the surface.

 

Raducanu, who made her WTA debut last June, is yet to play a Tour event on the clay. In fact, she has never played a senior event of any kind on the surface. However, during her junior event she played in nine clay tournaments between 2016-2018, including the 2018 girls French Open where she lost in the second round to Denmark’s Clara Tauson.

Despite her lack of experience, the Brit remains confident that she will be able to thrive on the surface. Speaking to reporters ahead of her country’s Billie Jean Cup tie with the Czech Republic, which will take place on clay, Raducanu believes her love for sliding on the court will help her in the coming years.

“I feel this could be one of my strongest surfaces going forward but of course it’s early days right now,” she said.
“I feel like I have got a lot more potential physically. And I do enjoy sliding. So, after spending more time on this surface, I’m sure I’ll time it better and learn more about the surface but also just the time that the clay brings. I feel like I can really use it and play aggressive.”

Since her breakthrough run at the US Open last September, Raducanu has struggled to maintain her form with a series of disappointing results. So far this season the rising star has managed to win just two out of seven matches played. Four out of her five losses were to players ranked outside the world’s top 50.

Part of the problem for the 19-year-old has been her own body. She has suffered from a hip injury which forced her to retire from a match in Mexico earlier this year and has also been hindered by blisters. Furthermore, Raducanu revealed that she has also lost all of her toenails. Prompting British team captain Anne Keothavong to joke that everybody is ‘a little bit scared’ by her toes.

I have no toenails,” Raducanu stated.
“It was just my foot, my shoes, they’ve just been sliding around a lot [in the shoe].
“I had a small niggle in Miami but now I have no physical thing.”

Raducanu will be hoping to lead her country to victory in their Billie Jean King Cup tie which will be held in Prague. It will be the first time she has ever played in the event.

“I love playing as a team, especially the team we’ve got here,” she said.
“I feel like everyone has been a lot of fun and there’s been a great connection off court, whether that’s playing murder mystery games or cornhole, we’re definitely bonding and gelling very well.”

Raducanu is the only top 20 player participating in the tie.

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Fed Cup

Great Britain Handed Tough Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers Draw Against Czech Republic

Great Britain have a tough test in the Czech Republic in the BJK Cup qualifiers in April.

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British Billie Jean King Cup Team (@the_LTA - Twitter)

Great Britain will need to beat the Czech Republic away if they want to qualify for next year’s Billie Jean King Cup Finals after the draw was made today.

 

Anne Keothavong’s team beat Mexico earlier in the year to earn a place in the qualifiers next year.

However in today’s draw, Great Britain will need to overcome a huge test as they will go to the Czech Republic next April.

Czech Republic have won six of the last nine Billie Jean King Cups and boast the likes of Karolina Pliskova, Barbora Krejcikova, Marketa Vondrousova, Katarina Siniakova and Petra Kvitova.

Speaking after the draw Keothavong is looking forward to the test that awaits them in April, “The team are really looking forward to taking on Czech Republic in our 2022 qualifier and hopefully continuing our momentum in the Billie Jean King Cup next year,” she told skysports.com.

The Czechs are currently hosting this year’s finals and fell at the semi-final stage after losing a tight match to Switzerland.

Other key matches sees a repeat of this year’s group stage match between Belgium and Belarus while USA will host Elina Svitolina’s Ukraine team.

Here are the ties with the qualifiers taking place on the 15-16th of April next year with the finals happening next November:

Czech Republic v Great Britain

Australia v Slovakia

France v Italy

USA v Ukraine

Belarus v Belgium

Germany v Kazakhstan

Canada v Latvia

Spain v Netherlands

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Fed Cup

Russia sends Canada packing on day 2 of the Billie Jean King Cup

Daria Kasatkina featured in Russia’s 3-0 win over Canada in the Billie Jean King Cup today.

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Daria Kasatkina (@usopen - Twitter)

The Russians were too good for the Canadians to overcome and they won all three rubbers.

 

Canada is officially going home after losing three straight rubbers to Russia in the morning session of day two at the Billie Jean King Cup in Prague on Court one.

Bad news for Canada

The day didn’t get off to good start for Canada as during their morning warm-up Francoise Abanda injured her toe and upon review decided she wouldn’t be able to play. Carol Zhao was subbed in for Abanda and played the first rubber against Daria Kasatkina.

Kasatkina gives first blood to Russia

The first three games of the first set went on serve and it was the Russian who earned the first breakpoint of the match and broke the Canadian to take a 3-1 lead but was broken the following game and the set went back on serve.

At 4-3, the world number 28 had another chance to break and once again broke as she won the first set.

The second set again stayed on serve for the first two games and again it was the Russian who broke first and managed to turn that break into a double break as she broke Zhao one last time to win the match.

Pavlyuchenkova handles Marino

Next up was Rebecca Marino from Vancouver up against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and the first four games were pretty tight and both players did a good job holding serve.

it was the Russian who was able to get the first break of serve to take a 3-2 lead and that was enough for her to serve out the first set and take it 6-4. The second set stayed on serve until 5-4 when Marino had three set points on her opponent’s serve and got the crucial break to send the match into a deciding third set.

The world number 12 was keen to get the win and pushed hard in the opening game of the third set and broke the Canadian to take an early 1-0 lead. At 3-1, the Russian earned five chances to break and go up a double break and it took her until the fifth one to break again.

Pavlyuchenkova served out the set and the match at 5-2 to seal the win and the tie for Russia.

Russia wins dead rubber doubles match

For the third and final match, a dead rubber doubles match was played between Marino and Gabriela Dabrowski facing off against the Russian duo of Veronika Kudermetova and Liudmilla Samsonova.

It was indeed the Russian who ended up with another straight-sets win beating the Canadians 6-3, 6-1 in 53 minutes to end the tie with a 3-0 victory and a win away against France on Wednesday from the semi-finals.

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