Johanna Konta fought back from a set down to beat Maria Sakkari 3-6 6-2 6-3 and give Great Britain an unassailable 2-0 lead against Greece.
The Brit, 27, looked to be the weaker player in the opening set against the rising star from Athens, who struck the ball cleanly and took her chances well.
However, the World No.39 is an experienced Fed Cup campaigner by now, and she turned the match around very impressively to get the win for her team.
‘I don’t think there’s much better than that – in this kind of arena, in front of this kind of support,’ Konta told fedcup.com. ‘I’ve played on all the centre courts at all the Grand Slams but this is definitely what you look for in a match.’
‘You look for a competitive match against a really great player, you look for it to go the wire and you look to be in front of a crowd that are so behind you and so invested in the match and who are living it with you. It was a complete pleasure to be out on court.’
Konta shows her grit
Early in the second set, the Brit’s prospects looked bleak as she immediately went down a break and seemed a little disconsolate.
But if Konta was feeling pessimistic, she shrugged off those negative thoughts quickly and battled her way back into the set.
The 2017 Wimbledon semi-finalist broke Sakkari twice in a row to move 4-1 ahead. She then almost won her fifth consecutive when she had four break points on the Greek’s serve.
However, the World No.39 hung on, despite a disagreement with the umpire, and managed to put Konta under pressure in game seven.
The Brit held firm, and then broke Sakkari again to take the set 6-2 and send the home crowd into raptures.
Both players gave it everything they had in the decider and the first five games took over 20 minutes to complete. But then Konta took charge as she broke the Greek and quickly finished off the set 6-3.
Boulter digs in to secure important victory
Katie Boulter was also given a tough test by Valentini Grammatikopoulou in the opening singles rubber of the tie as she recovered after losing the second set to win 6-3 4-6 6-3.
The British No.2 made an excellent start to the match. She broke immediately and served well to win it comfortably in just 34 minutes.
However, the Greek produced an inspired fightback in the second set and it soon became apparent that Boulter had a real match on her hands.
When Grammatikopoulou went 2-0 up in the decider, the situation looked dire for the Brit. But she never gave up, and soon earned a couple of break points in game four.
The World No.171 saved them both, along with two more, before Boulter eventually took the fifth to level the match. She then ground out a hold to move 3-2 ahead.
Unfortunately, her delight was somewhat marred by an unsavoury row involving Grammatikopoulou, Greece Captain Anastasios Bavelas and the umpire about what the player believed were ‘unfair’ line calls.
‘This umpire was not so good so I’m really disappointed in that in Fed Cup,’ Grammatikopoulou told the Daily Mail. ‘It’s really unfair to play like this.’
Now the momentum was with Boulter. She used it well to break the Greek again in the sixth game, and then held her nerve to secure two holds and seal a vital win.
The doubles had a tough task to try and live up to those dramatic singles matches, but Katie Swan and Harriet Dart performed impressively again to beat Anna Arkadianou and Despina Papamichail 6-1 6-4.
Hungary beat Slovenia to go second
In the other Pool A tie, Hungary eased to a 3-0 win over Slovenia to set up a shoot-out for top spot with Great Britain on Friday evening.
Dalma Galfi gave her team the perfect start with a 6-1 6-4 thrashing of Kaja Juvan, Anna Bondar backed that result up with an impressive 4-6 6-1 6-4 defeat of Dalila Jakupovic and Reka-Luca Jani and Adrienn Nagy completed the whitewash by beating Nina Potocnik and Nika Radisic 7-6(3) 4-6 6-2 in the doubles.
Croatia overcome Georgia despite resting star player Vekic
Croatia beat Georgia 2-1 to set up a Pool B decider with Serbia, but they almost paid for their decision to allow their best player Donna Vekic to sit out the tie and rest.
The tie started well for Croatia as Ana Konjuh beat Mariam Bolkvadze 6-4 6-3. But then Jana Fett took Vekic’s place and lost a marathon match 4-6 6-3 7-5 to Ekaterine Gorgodze.
Consequently, the Croatians asked Konjuh to join Daria Jurak for the deciding doubles. However, it did not look good for them when they fell 3-1 behind to Gorgodze and Oksana Kalashnikova.
To their immense relief, Konjuh and Jurak found their form and levelled the set at 5-5. Then Konjuh turned on the style as she hit a series of thunderous winners and excellent touch shots around the net to help her team win eight of the next nine games and close out the match 7-5 6-1.
In the other Pool B tie, Serbia thrashed Turkey 3-0. Ivana Jorovic beat Cagla Buyukakcay 6-2 6-3, Aleksandra Krunic edged out Pemra Ozgen 3-6 6-4 6-2 and Krunic and Olga Danilovic eased to a 6-2 6-3 win over Berfu Cengiz and Ipek Soylu in the doubles.
After 26 Years Of Heartbreak, Great Britain Finally Secures Fed Cup Promotion
After losing four play-off ties since 2011, the British team have finally scored the breakthrough they desired.
A duo of hard fought singles victories in London has made history for British Tennis after the Fed Cup team defeated Kazakhstan to reach the World Group stage for the first time since 1993.
Tied at 1-1 after the first day, Johanna Konta and Katie Boulter prevailed in both of their matches to hand Great Britain an overall 3-1 win over their opponents. The proceedings were opened up on Sunday by former top 10 player Konta. Taking on Yania Putintseva, Konta battled to an epic 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory. After dropping the opening set, she was then forced to recover from a 1-4 deficit in the decider to score the crucial victory. Putintseva, who was struggling physically during the match, is only the fourth top 50 player Konta has defeated so far in 2019.
“As a young girl, as an athlete wanting to make it to the top of my sport… you can only dream of this stuff.” She said during an interview with BT Sport. “Gosh that was one hell of a match wasn’t it?”
Following on from Konta’s heroics, it was Boulter’s chance to seal an unassailable lead for her country in the tie. Boulter wasn’t born until three years after her country was last in the World Group of the Fed Cup. The 22-year-old was out to seek redemption after squandering three match points on Saturday during her loss to Putintseva.
This time round Boulter didn’t crumble when under pressure. Like teammate Konta, she roared back from a set down to defeat Zarina Diyas 6-7(1), 6-4, 6-1. Winning 67% of her first service points and breaking her opponent’s serve six times throughout the match.
“I was trying to get one win for the team, Johanna did a great job, I was just trying to make them proud today,” she told BT Sport.
“I showed yesterday how much it meant, I was so close but today I bounced back and got the win.
“We go again!!”
The triumph comes after what has been years of heartbreak for the British camp. Prior to 2019, they have been on the verge of reaching World Group II of the Fed Cup four times in seven years. Only to lose all of their play-off ties. Making their victory over Kazakhstan even more sweeter.
“Amazing. Just a heroic effort from the players this week, some fantastic tennis.” Team captain Anne Keothavong commented.
“Everyone here has been part of our journey and this has been an unforgettable weekend.
“Jo’s effort. coming back from behind, to Katie today. I think they have inspired a lot of people.”
Besides their new status, the contingent of player’s are hoping that their performances will help inspire the next generation. At present, there are five British players in the top 200 on the WTA Tour. Three of which are under the age of 22 (Boulter, Harriet Dart and Katie Swan).
“I hope that we have inspired a lot of kids here (in London) today to play tennis or do whatever they want to do.” Said team member Heather Watson.
It remains to be seen what is next for the Brits with the possibility of the Fed Cup changing its format. From next year there is a chance that the world group could be turned into a 12-team format. If this happened, Britain is likely to make that group thanks to their latest win.
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.
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.
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.
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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