Johanna Konta Survives Huge Scare To Earn Serbia Play-Off for Great Britain - UBITENNIS
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Fed Cup

Johanna Konta Survives Huge Scare To Earn Serbia Play-Off for Great Britain

Johanna Konta hung on to secure a tense three-set win over Anna Bondar that booked Great Britain’s place in the play-off against Serbia.

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Johanna Konta (@BritishTennis on Twitter)

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

Katie Boulter (@BritishTennis on Twitter)

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

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.

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Caroline Garcia And Kristina Mladenovic (@TennisAustralia - Twitter)

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.

https://twitter.com/FedCup/status/1193474574010195969

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.

https://twitter.com/FedCup/status/1193466101319053312

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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Fed Cup

Ash Barty And Kristina Mladenovic Power To Victory On Day One At Fed Cup Final

Ash Barty and Kristina Mladenovic produced one-sided victories to keep the score level after day one of the Fed Cup Final.

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Ash Barty (@TennisAustralia - Twitter)

Ash Barty and Kristina Mladenovic produced dominant displays to keep Australia and France level at the end of day one of the Fed Cup Final. 

 

In front of a sold-out RAC Arena in Perth, Australia were bidding for their first Fed Cup title since 1974 as they took on a reunited French team.

However their bid got off to the worst possible start as a nervy Ajla Tomljanovic was stunned by Kristina Mladenovic in 72 minutes.

Hitting 16 winners, the world number 40 pummelled her way past Tomljanovic to hand the visitors the early advantage.

Though the Australian debutant showed moments of brilliance, they were in patches as Mladenovic produced a stunning performance for the French team.

After the match, the doubles grand slam champion admitted she played the perfect match, “I really did almost a perfect match, I was really in the zone,” Mladenovic said in her on-court interview.

“I love these kind of events — the more the pressure it is, the bigger the pressure it is, the more special is the event. I came out there and I just wanted to win, basically.”

As France held the early lead, the pressure was on world number one Ash Barty to deliver and deliver she did in an equally impressive performance.

A 6-0 6-0 thrashing of Caroline Garcia was exactly what Australia ordered as Barty was ruthless in her dismantling of the French number two.

Eight aces helped Barty power past the world number 45 and the 40 degree temperatures as a mix of variety as well as power was evidence why every rubber the hosts of win this year has involved Barty.

https://twitter.com/TennisAustralia/status/1193039964126294016

After the 56 minute win the world number one explained how she executed her game-plan, “I think just overall today I executed very well. I made Caro pretty uncomfortable,” Barty said.

“I felt like in the first three or four of my service games I was in control of a lot of the points, and Caro is a player who like court position, she likes to be up in the court. So that was a key factor for me today. And that’s probably the best I’ve returned in a long long time.”

It is now 15 wins in a row for Barty in Fed Cup as she takes on Kristina Mladenovic in a crucial third rubber tomorrow.

Then Caroline Garcia is scheduled to take on Ajla Tomljanovic although both teams could be set to make changes depending on the scenario.

Should the two nations split the singles again then the deciding doubles will see Ash Barty and Sam Stosur take on Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic.

Play begins from 3am GMT time tomorrow, in what will be the last day of a traditional Fed Cup Final before the re-formatted version begins next year.

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Fed Cup

Ash Barty Heads Australia’s Bid To End Their 45-Year Fed Cup Title Drought

Will it be jubilation or heartbreak for team Australian this weekend?

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Ashleigh Barty - Fed Cup 2019 (via Twitter, @FedCup)

When Australia last won the Fed Cup, none of the participants in this weekend’s final was even born. Including both the team captains.

 

1974 was the last time the country triumphed in the team tournament. A perhaps surprising statistic for a country who is the third most decorated in the history of the competition. World No.1 Ash Barty will lead her team when they played France on home soil in Perth. It is the first time in almost 20 years the two have locked horns with both being optimistic about their chances of victory.

“When you are playing for your country and you are playing in a Fed Cup final, it is pretty easy to get up and about and be as ready as you can,” said Barty, who recently won the WTA Finals in Shenzhen.
“It’s a format that I love, I cherish it. This is going to be a really precious week.”

Barty’s performance in the final could be critical to Australia’s hopes. She is the only top 50 player in her team, but Ajla Tomljanovic is just outside in 51st place. In comparison, France has four players ranked inside the top 65 in the singles. Kristina Mladenovic is also the current world No.2 in doubles. Something Barty is wary of.

“Kiki has the ability to play well in the big moments,” she told AAP.
“Obviously she was on a bit of a heater in Shenzhen in doubles and she’s a beautiful doubles player. We’ve seen that time and time again.
“I’m sure, without knowing the team until Friday, that her name will feature heavily on Saturday and Sunday.
“So it’s someone I would love to play and try and right my wrongs from midway through the year when we played in Rome.”

Whilst being the visitors, France are by no means intimidated by the occasion. They have only won the title twice before with the most recent occurring back in 2003. Three years ago, they narrowly missed out on winning the trophy after losing the final match in their tie against the Czech Republic.

Caroline Garcia was one of the Frenchwomen who featured in the 2016 final. She believes that loss has made France even stronger.

“That final was a great lesson for me and all of us,” Garcia reflects. “We now have the experience of losing and we don’t want to have the feeling of losing a final again. We have been there before, whereas the Australian girls haven’t. It is an important factor for us.”

The nominations

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Ajla Tomljanovic has been chosen to open up Australia’s campaign on Saturday against Mladenovic. The match will be her first ever representing her country in the Fed Cup. The former Croatian No.1 was recently approved to play for Australia following an appeal to the ITF. A somewhat controversial decision in the aftermath of Aljaz Bedene’s failed attempt to represent Great Britain a couple years ago.

Tomljanovic was picked ahead of veteran player Sam Stosur. The 35-year-old has played 57 Fed Cup matches in her career and has played in 31 ties. She has won more singles matches in the competition than any other Australian player in history.

“It is exceptionally tough to decide your two singles players for day one. For us it was a matter of match-ups and I feel like we are going in with our strongest two players for Saturday,” said team captain Alicia Molik.
“I feel like it’s the right decision… within this team everyone brought such a high level in practice. It has been difficult, sets have been very close and that’s really the way that we want it. It should be a tough decision.”

As for the second singles match, Barty will take on Garcia. They are currently level at 2-2 in their head-to-head, But Barty won their most recent meeting at the Wuhan Open this year. However  French captain, Julien Benneteau, is confident in his players.

“In the first two rounds (against Belgium and Romania), we proved that we could win with different players in singles. It is an advantage,” he stated.

The final will start on Saturday at 11:00 local time (0300 GMT).

https://twitter.com/FedCup/status/1192625612671913985

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