The first Fed Cup competition to be held on British territory for 26 years has been marred by allegations of poor officiating during matches.
Two members of the Greek team have criticised the tournament shortly after their losses to Great Britain on Friday at the University of Bath. World No.38 Maria Sakkari voiced her frustration after losing 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, to Johanna Konta. Speaking to reporters after her match, Sakkari said that too many mistakes were made.
“This is unacceptable. They were making a lot of mistakes,” BBC Sport quoted Sakkari as saying. “We cannot have amateurs.”
Clearly bemused by the events, the 23-year-old continued by taking aim at the ‘terrible’ line judges. Throughout the match both her and Konta disputed a series of calls that was made against them. Unlike many events on the ATP and WTA Tour, there is no Hawk-Eye system in place for players to challenge the calls.
“Yeah they are terrible. Since the first round,” Sakkari commented about the line judges.
“They’re the worst I’ve ever seen in my life. This is unacceptable.”
“Because we have many players in the top 100, we are playing with poor balls, nine and 11 change, and with line umpires that have never worked in their life. That’s what I want to say.”
Valentini Grammatikopoulou, who lost to Katie Boulter in three sets during the tie, was also critical. The world No.171 slammed the umpiring of her match by describing it as unfair. Grammatikopoulou lost her match 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.
“I’m really disappointed,” she said. “It’s really unfair to play like this. Three calls were in deuce. You can watch it actually and I will show her the balls were out.”
“She [Boulter] deserved to win but let’s play fair. That’s why we play tennis, you know? Not to judge the lines. It’s really tough. It’s not about how she played, it’s about fair play.
“If the ball was out, I accept. If the ball was in, I accept. But not if it’s really clearly out. It doesn’t matter anymore but if I want to lose, I want to lose nice.”
In the wake of the claims, British captain Anne Keothavong stated that those controversial calls had no impact on the outcome of the tie.
“The line-calling today didn’t affect the outcome of the matches. There were tight line calls. Some of the bad line calls went both ways, but that’s tennis.” Said Keothavong.
“There was a lot of tension out there. But my brother’s an official so I’m sympathetic to officials these days. It’s not easy out there for them too.”
Responding to the comments, the Lawn Tennis Association has defended the officials. Rebecca James, who is the LTA Tournament Director, have said that every lines-person and umpire working at the tournament in Bath has the correct qualification to do so.
“The officials selected for this event by the Association of British Tennis Officials (ABTO) have all worked at the highest levels of the game. The chair umpires are internationally certified and selected by the ITF. The lines people are all paid LTA licenced officials, who have all worked Wimbledon semi-finals and finals between them, including many on previous Davis Cup and Fed Cup matches.”
Great Britain is currently sitting in first place in Pool A of the tournament. They are yet to lose a match after securing 3-0 victories over Greece and Slovenia. They will play Hungary in their final group match on Friday.
Billie Jean King Play-off round-up
The Netherlands needed the deciding doubles win to move forward to next year’s qualifying round at the Billie Jean King Cup with a 3-2 win over China.
Wang Xiyu beat Lesley Kerkhove 6-3 5-7 6-4 to give China a 2-1 lead. Aranxta Rus drew level to 2-2 when Wang Xinyu retired at 4-6 3-4. Rus and Demi Schuurs beat Zhang Shuai and Zu Yifan 6-1 6-4 in the decisive doubles match.
Ukraine cruised past Japan 4-0 in Chornomonsk. World number 5 Elina Svitolina beat Chihiro Muramatsu 6-3 6-2. Marta Kostyuk cruised past Yuki Naito 6-3 6-3 to give Ukraine a 2-0 lead after the first day. Svitolina battled past Naito 6-2 4-6 7-6 (7-3) after the Japanese player came close to win as she served for the match at 5-4.
Brazil pushed Brazil to the brink. Carolina Meligeni Alves beat Katarzyna Kawa 6-3 7-5 to force a deciding doubles match. Magdalena Frech teamed up with Katarzyna Kawa to beat Carolina Alves and Luisa Stefani 1-6 6-2 6-4. Frech won all three rubbers for her team. The world number 157 started the tie with a 6-4 6-3 over Alves. After winning both of her singles rubbers she teamed up with Kawa to beat Alves and Louisa Stefani in the doubles match 1-6 6-2 6-4.
Great Britain led 2-0 overnight over Mexico in London, but Marcela Marcela Zacarias edged Heather Watson 6-3 7-6 (7-1). With Great Britain leading 2-1, Katie Boulter beat Giuliana Boulter 6-4 6-1 to clinch victory for Great Britain.
Kazakhsan won the deciding doubles match to beat Argentina 3-2. Yulia Putintseva came back from a set and 1-3 down by winning 11 of the next 12 games to beat Nadia Podorska 2-6 6-4 6-0. World number 430 Maria Lourdes Carle beat Elena Rybakina 6-4 3-6 6-0 to level the tie. Rybakina bounce back to beat Podoroska 6-4 6-4. Putintseva beat Carle 7-6 (7-3) 5-3, but she suffered from cramps and was forced to withdraw from the match after Carle came back to win the tie-break of the second set 7-3. Yaroslava Schvedova and Anna Danilina to beat Carle and Podoroska 6-0 7-5 in the decisive doubles match.
Latvia won the first three rubbers to beat India 3-1. Jelena Ostapenko overcame World number 174 Anika Raina 6-2 5-7 7-5. Latvian number 1 Anastasija Sevastova cruised past Karman Thandi 6-4 6-0. The next day Sevastova beat Raina 6-0 7-6 (7-4).
The winners got through to the 2022 qualifying round, where they will bid to reach the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup Finals.
Canada Sweeps Serbia to advance to Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers
Leylah Fernandez sealed Canada’s place in the Billie Jean King Qualifiers.
Leylah Fernandez beat Nina Stojanovic in the third singles match to seal the tie for Canada.
Canada has booked a spot in the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup qualifiers after beating Serbia 3-0 after Leylah Fernandez beat Nina Stojanovic in three tight sets 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a match that last two hours and 46 minutes with the Canadian hitting 31 winners.
“I’m honestly very proud of myself that I was able to push through the nerves of this match, It wasn’t going to be easy with the way that she played at the beginning of the first set and it proved how great of a player she is, today I tried to fight through everything, the Serbian team, my emotions and I was happy that I was able to pull through in the third set with all the match points I missed and then when the lights went out that was a moment to remember but I’m glad I was able to just get the win for Canada and for us to qualify for the next round.”
Both players did a good job holding serve the first couple games and we didn’t see a breakpoint until 2-2 when the Serb had three looks and managed to convert at the third time of asking to take a 3-2 lead.
At 5-3 with Fernandez serving to stay in the set Stojanovic picked up her level and earned two set points on the Canadian serve and managed to seal the set on the second opportunity to take a one set lead.
The Canadian kept fighting despite the fact she was down and in the first game of the second set she earned a breakpoint but was unable to convert. The Serb continued to play well and earned two breakpoints at 2-1 and broke to take a 3-1 lead.
Once again the Montreal native battled and managed to get the break back the very next game playing some great tennis. She would earn the crucial break to take a 4-3 lead and would break once again to win the second set on her opponent’s service game.
Before the third set would commence Stojanovic would call the trainer and take a medical timeout to have work done on her foot. Despite that she was able to break the Canadian in the first game of the final set as Fernandez had a poor service game.
The Canadian once again using her fighting spirit and determination not to give up earned six breakpoints in a very long service game that lasted 10 minutes but was finally able to get the break back.
The next game the Serb tried to regain her lead and earned two more breakpoints but the Canadian hung in and saved both and would hold serve.
At 3-3 the Serb kept pushing for the breakthrough and earned another breakpoint but the Canadian once again saved it. The very next game it was the Montreal native turn to have a chance to break and at the second time of asking the Canadian would break with a superb passing shot to take a 5-3 lead and serve for the match and the tie.
Another poor service game followed and Fernandez was broken at love and the next game the Canadian had five match points but the Serb saved all five. Then out of nowhere the lights went out and there was a 10-15 minute delay to resolve the issue.
After the short delay the Canadian would earn a sixth match point and this time she would win it to seal the win and the tie for Canada. With the tie sealed the two countries decided to play doubles for the dead rubber and it was Rebecca Marino and Carol Zhao who faced off against Aleksandra Krunic and Ivana Jorovic and it was the Canadians who would come back from a set down to win 6-7, 6-3, 10-0 to make it 4-0 Canada after two days of action.
After the final doubles match Hedi El Tabakh spoke to the Canadian media and gave her final thoughts of the tie this weekend.
“It was a battle from start to finish, I know the score-line is 4-0 but it was much closer than that, were up 2-0, two tough matches yesterday and we were able to pull it off, and obviously Leylah match today was the decider, in my opinion, it could have swung either way so it was a battle till the end, Nina played incredible tennis and congrats to her for all her work on the court, she improved a ton and she’s broken the top 100 so Leylah had to earn it today so I’m really happy with the way things turned out for us and couldn’t ask for a better result”.
She told Ubitennis afterwards if she thinks it was her best tie so far as captain of team Canada.
“This was the toughest, I mean for us to come back and win these last two ties was huge and the way the girls performed on the court was very satisfying and this was a very important tie for us so I am pleased with the way we handled things this week, everything was smooth from start to finish, the girls had a great week of practicing leading up to the matches and they were match ready and they delivered which was big and we needed that and I congratulate them for that”
Canada up 2-0 over Serbia after day one at Billie Jean King Cup
Canada are one rubber away from the Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers.
Team Canada got big wins from Leylah Fernandez and Rebecca Marino to put Canada on the brink of advancing.
It was the perfect start for Team Canada as on day on they took a commanding 2-0 lead over Serbia when Leylah Fernandez needed three sets to beat Olga Danilovic 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 while Rebecca Marino got the second win in another tight two set victory over Nina Stojanovic 6-4, 7-6.
Fernandez gives Canada the lead
The Montreal native got off to a great start holding her opening service game and earning two breakpoints the very next game and breaking to take an early 2-0 lead.
The Canadian wasn’t able to consolidate the break, getting broken the very next game and the next time she had a chance to break she took it to take a 5-3 lead and serve for the first set.
While serving the set once again she failed to convert and the Serb broke her at love and the set stayed on serve until 6-5 when Fernandez had two looks at a set point as she converted on the second opportunity to take a one set lead.
The Serb was looking to get back into the match and broke the Montreal native in the first game of the second set but again wouldn’t hold as the Canadian broke right back the following game.
At 3-3 the Serb earned two more breakpoints and broke and would serve out the second set to win it 6-4.
The third and final set was a back and forth affair but it was the Canadian who would earn the crucial break with a stunning forehand return winner down the line to take a 3-1 lead.
At 5-3 Fernandez served for the match but once again struggled to hold serve and the Serb would break to send the match back on serve. When serving to stay in the match the Canadian responded by setting up a match point and winning the match on her opponents serve.
After her match, Fernandez mentioned what she needs to work on for her next match tomorrow.
“I made one too many mistakes on the forehand, backhand, drop shots, volleys just like every match I got to improve but I’m happy I got the win”
Marino gives Canada a commanding lead
Next up was Rebecca Marino against Serbia number one Nina Stojanovic and it was the Vancouver native who got off to a great start playing some aggressive tennis.
She had a chance to break in the second game of the match but the Serb saved both and held serve. It was actually Stojanovic who would earn the first break of the match but she wasn’t able to consolidate as the Canadian would earn three breakpoints with a sensational forehand winner.
She would break back to go back on serve at 3-3 and at 5-4 the world number 230 had two set points and would convert on the second one to take the first set.
The second set was a crazy affair with the Serb earning two breakpoints in the first game but she would be denied by Marino big serve and then she would break to take 2-0 lead.
She wasn’t able once again to hold the break and was broken back the very next game and the next five games went with break of serve. At 6-5 Marino found herself at match point but couldn’t convert and the set would be decided by a tiebreaker.
The Vancouver native jumped out to a 3-1 lead but not before the Serb came back winning three points in a row and 6-4 Marino found herself once again with two match points but Stojanovic saved both.
At 7-6 the Canadian finally made the breakthrough winning the set and the match to put Canada in a great position to advance on Saturday.
After the match Marino spoke about how she was able to hang in and get the win for her country.
“It was frustrating and exciting at the same time to constantly break serve but constantly be broken, you have to hang in tough sets like that, she’s a great player, I knew if I kept trying and doing my best no matter what I might be able to squeak it through and that’s kinda what happened”
After all that we got hear from team captain Heidi El Tabakh and she was pleased with result.
“It wasn’t easy out there, I’m glad we were able to get the wins but it’s not over yet, I feel Leylah ( Fernandez) struggled with some nerves at the beginning and to be completely fair I think Olga ( Danilovic) played some of her best tennis, she came firing, she put the pressure on Leylah and served really well and Leylah did a good job of hanging in there and not letting it get to her, she fought her way out of it, it’s tough playing the first match as the number one nerves can get to you it’s completely normal, she’s tough and she was able to pull it off and I feel like Rebecca ( Marino) was inspired by that performance and came out playing really well, she played super-aggressive, served well and went for it from start to finish and that was her game plan so very happy with the way she played“.
She added how it felt to be playing in a stadium with no fans and how the energy was during the matches.
“Ya it was different playing without a crowd but we felt the support from our team and staff and we have had a ton of support from back home and we totally felt that today, we were very loud and I think that helped the girls today”.
Saturday is reverse singles with the action starting at 11:00 am local time with doubles after both singles matches and Canada only needs one more win to clinch a spot in the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup qualifiers while Serbia would need to win all three matches tomorrow to put them through.
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