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Johanna Konta Fights Back To Lead Great Britain To Victory

Johanna Konta led by example with a battling display to see off Greek No.1 Maria Sakkari and secure victory for Great Britain.

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Johanna Konta (@BritishTennis on Twitter)

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 (@BritishTennis on Twitter)

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.

 

Fed Cup

Fed Cup To Have A New Format From 2020

Details about the changes to the historic competition has been announced.

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Federation Cup (foto via Twitter, @FedCup)

The International Tennis Federation has confirmed that home and away finals will be removed from Fed Cup competition in favour of a week-long tournament taking place in a neutral location.

 

From 2020, the women’s team tournament will follow in the footsteps of the Davis Cup, which underwent a controversial revamp last year. Under the new structure, 12 teams will play in the finals over six days during April. However, home and away ties will still be used in the play-in rounds that will take place during February.

A total of $18 million worth of prize money will be available. The winners of the competition will receive $1.2M for their national federation and an additional $3.2M for players. In comparison, those who reach the group stages will receive $300,000 and $500,000 retrospectively. Overall, $12M will be awarded to players and $6M to national associations.

“The launch of the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas finals will create a festival of tennis that elevates the flagship women’s team competition to a new level, yet remains loyal to the historic core of the Fed Cup.” Said ITF President David Haggerty.
“We have consulted and listened to stakeholders and worked with the WTA and its player council to make sure the new format represents the interests of the players.” He added.

The Hungarian capital of Budapest will be the venue of the newly formatted finals between 2020-2022. It will be held at the László Papp Budapest Sports Arena on two clay courts. The competition will be played in a round-robin format with four groups of three. The winner of each group would then progress to the semi-finals.

Besides the February ties, two countries will be handed wild cards into the finals. Hungary will be one of them and another country is yet to be confirmed. Hungary hasn’t played in the top tier of the competition since 2002. This year’s finalists, Australia and France, have also been given direct entry into the finals.

“Fed Cup has evolved since I was part of the first winning team in 1963 but it has always remained true to its roots.” Said Fed Cup ambassador Billie Jean King.
“These reforms are historic as they reflect the ITF’s commitment to unlocking the Fed Cup huge potential, hosting a competition with prize money deserving of the world’s best women’s teams and players. It is an honour to be part of the next evolution of the greatest event in women’s tennis.”

Not all in favour

Earlier this week Simona Halep confirmed that she will stop playing in the Fed Cup should the format change. Countries like Romania now only have a 50% chance of hosting one Fed Cup tie every year over the next three years.

“I love the Fed Cup and I would never change that,” the former world No.1 told reporters earlier this week.
“If Fed Cup changes I won’t play any more. I like the format now so if they change, it will be tough because Fed Cup means to play home and away.”

Halep’s comments were backed by Karolina Pliskova, who represents the Czech Republic. A team who has won the title six times since 2011. Pliskova played in the final of the competition in 2015 and 2016.

“I think they should not change, because especially for smaller countries like Czech Republic, I think this is something that they always look forward to,” said Pliskova.
“We don’t have many (home) tournaments. We have just one. For Romania, they have maybe one tournament too.
“It’s huge when Simona is playing there. So I understand that if she’s playing somewhere else, you don’t feel the same.”

 

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Fed Cup

Simona Halep Threatens To Boycott Fed Cup If Revamp Takes Place

The 27-year-old has criticised proposals to change the format of the team competition.

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Simona Halep (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Former world No.1 Simona Halep has said she will stop playing in the Fed Cup if the International Tennis Federation removes home and away ties from the competition.

 

In recent months there has been speculation that the women’s team event will soon follow the path of the Davis Cup, which has undergone a controversial reform. Where the finals will take place at the end of a year over a week in a neutral location. The driving force behind the changes to the Davis Cup is Kosmos. An investment company founded by Barcelona footballer Gerald Pique. Kosmos has pledged to invest $3 billion over 25 years.

“I love the Fed Cup and I would never change that,” Reuters News quoted Halep as telling reporters in Eastbourne on Monday.
“If Fed Cup changes I won’t play any more. I like the format now so if they change, it will be tough because Fed Cup means to play home and away.”

Halep helped guide Romania to the semi-finals of the Fed Cup this year in what has been their best performance since 1973. Overall, she has won 22 out of 32 matches played since her debut back in 2010.

“To play at home, it’s the best feeling,” she said.
“I’ve played many years in Fed Cup and the best feeling is to be at home with all the people that come to support and also away you have to manage the emotions and the pressure.”

Earlier this month, ITF president Davis Haggerty vowed to revamp the Fed Cup in order to keep it in line with the men’s equivalent. Although he hasn’t outline an exact date as to when this will take place. Haggerty is seeking re-election this year and has outlined his plans in his manifesto.

“Fed Cup reform is a key focus of the Board in 2019, with the ambition to implement a similar Fed Cup World Cup of Tennis with a minimum of 16 teams in the World Group 2020 and to play one round of qualifying and an eight or 12-team Fed Cup Final in April 2020 in one location. This also aligns with the ITF Gender Equality initiative that we introduced in 2018 and continues to ensure tennis is a welcoming sport.” Sport Business quoted Haggerty as saying.

On Thursday an announcement is expected to be made about the future of the Fed Cup by the ITF in a press conference.

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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.

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Johanna Konta (image via https://twitter.com/the_LTA)

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.

Embed from Getty Images

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.

https://twitter.com/the_LTA/status/1120012995508285440

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