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.
Fed Cup Finals Draw: Australia And Czech Republic Given Tricky Tests In Budapest
Australia and Czech Republic have been handed difficult draws for the Fed Cup Finals in Budapest in April.
Australia and Czech Republic have been given tricky draws ahead of the inaugural Fed Cup Finals in Budapest.
The event in Hungary takes place on the 14th-19th of April on clay to prepare players for the clay-court season that will approach.
In the inaugural event there are 12 nations competing for the Fed Cup title with the four group winners advancing to the semi-finals.
Ahead of April’s Fed Cup finale, the draw was announced today which has seen some mouth-watering matches set to take place.
Last year’s finalist’s Australia are in Group B and they have been given tricky tests against a strong Belarus team and Belgium.
Belarus have Aryna Sabalenka, Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Victoria Azarenka at their disposal while Belgium will be lead by Elise Mertens.
Meanwhile the other group in their half of the draw will see Czech Republic will face tough tests against Germany and a Switzerland team lead by Belinda Bencic.
On the other side of the draw, defending champions France will look to successfully defend their title when they face Russia and hosts Hungary.
Given the scenarios, this is a fairly good draw for France who would regard clay as their strongest surface and are favourites to make the last four.
In the last four, France could play USA who have been drawn with Spain and Slovakia who beat Great Britain in last weekend’s qualifiers.
Here is the full draw with the full round-robin schedule for April’s finals set to be released on Monday:
Winner of Group A v Winner of Group C
Winner of Group B v Winner of Group D
Great Britain Handed Mexican Away Trip In Fed Cup Play-Off Draw
Great Britain face another away tie as they travel to Mexico in the Fed Cup Play-Offs.
Great Britain have been handed an away trip to Mexico in the Fed Cup Play-Off draw as they look to compete in next year’s qualifiers.
The Brits, who were without Johanna Konta in their 3-1 defeat away to Slovakia, will now head to Mexico in April looking to avoid being relegated to Zone Group I.
Just like their tie in Bratislava, they are likely to be without Johanna Konta who has one eye on the Olympic Games and also like their tie this past weekend the tie will probably be on clay.
However this time the British team will be favourites to make next year’s Fed Cup qualifiers as the Mexican don’t have a single Women’s singles player in the top 200.
There will be eight Fed Cup play-offs which will be played on the 17th and 18th of April, with the eight winners joining eight teams from the Fed Cup finals.
14 of the 16 teams are confirmed with the Asia/Oceania Zone Group I still needed to be played in early March in Dubai after the Coronavirus epidemic meant that China couldn’t host the event in February.
Here is the full Fed Cup play-off draw:
(C) = Choice of Ground
Brazil v Poland (C)
Great Britain v Mexico (C)
Canada v Serbia (C)
Latvia (C) v Asia/Oceania Nation TBC
Japan (C) v Ukraine
Romania (C) v Italy
Kazakhstan v Argentina (C)
Netherlands (C) v Asia/Oceania Nation TBC
Captain Benneteau ‘Proud’ After France Seal First Fed Cup For 16 Years
Kristina Mladenovic won both the matches she was involved with to seal the Fed Cup title for France.
France’s Fed Cup captain Julien Benneteau expressed his pride after France edged out Australia 3-2 in the Fed Cup final.
The visitors claimed their first Fed Cup title for 16 years in Perth after Kristina Mladenovic won both of the matches she was involved with.
It all started after Mladenovic produced one of the greatest wins of her career by edging out world number one Ash Barty 2-6 6-4 7-6(1) in the first match of the day.
Both players had convincing wins on day one and it was the Australian who started the strongest, claiming the first set 6-2.
However Mladenovic struck back in the second set with a crucial break at 5-4 as she closed out the set to force a decider.
There was a lot of momentum shifts in the deciding set but eventually the world number 40 dominated the tiebreak to seal a shock win and a 2-1 lead for France.
Australia hit back in the second rubber of the day as Ajla Tomljanovic produced a solid performance to defeat Pauline Parmentier 6-4 7-5.
After a convincing loss in day one, Tomljanovic produced stunning shot-making to redeem herself and score her first Fed Cup win as an Australian.
The deciding rubber was a highly-anticipated doubles match between Ash Barty and Sam Stosur taking on Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic.
All four players had a combined total of 13 doubles grand slam titles as Australia had a good start to the match but lacked clinical edge after that.
The French team took advantage as they won the last two games of the opening set and the first two games of the second set.
This allowed them to control the tempo and when Stosur hit a volley long, the celebrations could start as they sealed a 6-4 6-3 win.
After the match, Captain Julien Benneteau expressed his pride at his French side, “I’m the proudest man on the planet right now,” Benneteau claimed.
“I’m so proud of my girls and the team, they deserve it because they fought for a long time for this title. It’s a dream for me. I tried to imagine that at the beginning of the year when I knew that I could have the best team with me on the court. Eight months later, here we are.”
The win means it’s France’s third Fed Cup triumph overall and their first since 2003, with Kristina Mladenovic winning all three of the matches she was involved with.
As for Australia, it was emotional scenes as Barty didn’t seem to have enough in the tank to edge the Aussies over the finish line.
This final also means its the last traditional final as the format will now to change a one-week 12 team contest which will take place next April in Budapest.
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