Johanna Konta battled to a 6-2 6-7(1) 7-6(4) victory over Anna Bondar to secure Great Britain’s in the play-off against Serbia tomorrow.
The Brit, 27, drew on every ounce of determination to withstand the brilliant assault from the Hungarian in the second and third sets.
It made for a compelling, if predictable, spectacle, as Bondar went for everything when serving and returning. Konta dug in, mixed up her approach and eventually outlasted her.
In the first set, it looked like it would be comfortable win for the British number one when she took the first set against Anna Bondar 6-2 in just 31 minutes.
But nobody foresaw what happened next. The Hungarian, 21, who is ranked 224 in the world and competes almost exclusively in ITF events, raised her level to new heights.
Consequently, the second set was extremely competitive. Bondar saved three break points in the first game and then served impressively to stay level with Konta at 4-4.
The Brit then earned three break points at 0-40 on the Hungarian’s serve and it looked like the match was as good as over.
However, Bondar was having none of it. She saved all three, as well as a fourth, and then held again to take the set into a tie-break.
The Hungarian then played an almost-perfect tie-break. She won it 7-1 in front of an increasingly astonished audience to take the match to a decider.
Konta holds firm amid Bondar onslaught
Nothing much changed in the final set. Bondar carried on playing superbly and Konta stuck with her, and consequently it went all the way to a tie-break once again.
At this stage, the Brit did not take any risks. She hit the ball hard, but well inside the court, and the Hungarian made just enough errors to give Konta a hard-fought win.
“The reason why I was on the ropes was because she played amazing tennis,” the Brit said in her post-match interview.
“I am very fortunate to have come through that. If anything I think it was my experience which got me through which she will get in time.”
Konta continued, “That was just another incredible match after Katie’s. She had a big battle too. I am speechless a little bit. I am still trying to come down from it.”
Boulter shows her fighting spirit again
Boulter’s match was almost as dramatic, and it followed a similar pattern. It looked like she would win easily when she raced into a 5-1 lead in the opening set. However, Galfi has demonstrated to everyone what a good player she is with emphatic straight-sets victories over Kaja Juvan and Valentini Grammitikopoulou this week, and she suddenly found her rhythm and started to fight back.
At the same time, the Brit suffered a slight dip, and the Hungarian quickly dragged the score back to 5-4.
The next game was a nervy affair. Boulter earned six set points, but repeatedly missed her first serve when she tried to take advantage, and Galfi capitalised to return the score to deuce each time.
The Brit missed her first serve again on her seventh set point, but the Hungarian finally sent a ball long to give her opponent the first set.
After an early exchange of breaks, the second set was totally dominated by serving. Both players held easily to take it to a tie-break, and there were six love holds along the way.
Boulter slipped 3-1 behind in the tie-break, before responding well to move 4-3 ahead. However, Galfi sent down a few huge serves and got the mini-break she needed to win it 7-5 and take the match into a decider.
Boulter produces her best when she needs it most
The decider was unbearably tense. Boulter fell a break behind at 3-2 and looked very tired. But she showed against Grammatikopoulou that she will never give up, and she drew on that same fighting spirit once again to break back immediately.
Both players had a couple of chances to break in the next two games, but neither managed to take advantage of a break point, and they did not get any more chances before the scoreboard rolled along to 6-6.
This is when Boulter showed why she is seen as a rising star in the world of tennis. Despite her fatigue, she played a near-flawless tie-break to win it 7-1 and secure a priceless win.
“Oh my god. This is everything to me. This means so much,” the Brit said in her post-match interview. “[To the crowd] Thank you so much for helping me out.”
“I was not calm at all. I wanted to see the last ball go out so I knew I had won. My heart was pumping so quickly.”
As it was late at night, the tie was already over, and it would not have changed anything in the group table, the doubles was cancelled.
Serbia stun Croatia in exciting clash
Earlier in the day, Serbia beat Croatia 2-1 in a thrilling tie. Olga Danilovic, 18, was the star – she edged out Jana Fett 2-6 6-2 7-6(7) and then partnered Aleksandra Krunic to a 1-6 6-1 6-4 victory over Darija Jurak and Ana Konjuh in the decisive doubles.
In between those matches, Donna Vekic underlined her status as Croatia’s No.1 when she beat Krunic 1-6 7-5 6-1.
Fed Cup Finals And Play-Offs Postponed Due to Coronavirus Concerns
The Fed Cup Finals and play-offs have been postponed due to fears over the Coronavirus.
April’s Fed Cup Finals and play-offs have been postponed due to current health concerns associated with the coronavirus.
Today’s announcement comes hours after the Hungarian government announced a ban on any indoor events which has more than 1000 people in it.
The Fed Cup finals were due to take place between the 14th and 19th of April in Budapest but the increasing amount of cases around the world and 13 in Hungary left the ITF with no choice.
In addition, April’s play-offs have also been postponed and will be moved to a later date, with the ITF finding away to solve the problem around eligibility for the summer’s Olympic games.
Speaking on the announcement, ITF President David Haggerty expressed his disappointment but insisted health is more important, “We are extremely disappointed to have to make this decision, but we will not risk the safety and welfare of players, captains, event staff or spectators,” Haggerty said.
“This decision has not been made lightly; the threat posed by the COVID-19 is a serious one and calls for us to act responsibly as a federation and as human beings. This situation goes beyond sport.
“New dates for the Finals and for the Play-offs will be announced in due course and will primarily be guided by the length of time that tennis as a whole is affected by COVID-19. We will continue to collaborate with our colleagues across the sport to ensure that the impact on players, tournaments, rights holders and fans is as minimal as possible.”
The Fed Cup Finals and play-offs are the second tennis event to be postponed because of the coronavirus after the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells was cancelled a couple of days ago.
Currently the Miami Open is set to go ahead although there is a big chance that this tournament could also be cancelled.
The ATP and WTA tournament at the Hard Rock Stadium is set to start on Monday the 25th of March.
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
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