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 Draws: Great Britain Get Second Home Tie In Two Months, Czechs Look To Bounce Back
Great Britain will have another home tie as they face Kazakhstan in April’s World Group II Play-Offs
After waiting 26 years for a home tie, Great Britain will have a second tie in two months as they face Kazakhstan in April’s World Group II Play-Offs.
After hosting some Zone Group I Europe/Africa action in Bath and successfully qualifying for the World Group II Play-Offs, Great Britain have been handed another home tie.
The Brits will face Kazakhstan in April with the winners getting promoted to the second tier of women’s team tennis, a historic occasion for both nation.
This tie along with the other World Group II and World Group play-off ties will take place on Easter weekend between the 20th and 21st of April.
After finding out the news GB Fed Cup captain Anne Keothavong said she is ready for a raucous atmosphere in April, “We saw the fantastic atmosphere home fans create and the role they play in lifting our players beyond their limits.”
There is strong rumour that the tie could be played at the Copper Box Arena in London although that will be confirmed next week.
Meanwhile the pick of the other ties sees a strong Russia team host Italy while either the Netherlands or Japan face relegation to Zone Group I.
Czechs Look To Bounce Back.
In the World Group Play-Offs draw the Czech Republic were handed an easy home tie to Canada as they face unchartered territory in April.
The defending champions will play their first play-off tie since losing 3-2 to Romania in an exhilarating tie in Ostrava which was their first defeat on home soil for ten years.
While the other 2018 Fed Cup finalists USA will host Switzerland and Latvia host Germany in a historic tie for the hosts as they look to make the World Group for the first time in their history.
Here is the full World Group and World Group II Play-Offs draw with the ties taking place on the 20th/21st of April:
*Home teams are first
World Group Play-Offs
Czech Republic v Canada
USA v Switzerland
Latvia v Germany
Belgium v Spain
World Group II Play-Offs
Russia v Italy
Japan v Netherlands
Great Britain v Kazakhstan
Slovakia v Brazil
Simona Halep Vows To ‘Give Her All’ In Fed Cup Following Shock Win For Romania
The former world No.1 has her eyes set on winning the team competition this year.
Reigning French Open champion Simona Halep has pledged to fully commit herself to the Fed Cup after helping guide Romania to a shock win over the weekend.
Halep recorded wins over Katerina Siniakova and Karolina Pliskova during her country’s surprise 3-2 win over heavyweights the Czech Republic. A team who has won the title in six of the past eight years of the competition. The deciding win was clinched in the doubles when Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu and Monica Niculescu defeated Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 6-4 in a match that lasted just under three hours.
“It was my biggest and best win in the Fed Cup and to win both rubbers against the Czech Republic means a lot to me because they have such a big history in this competition,” Halep told reporters following her win over Pliskova.
Romania now finds themselves in the semifinals of the competition for the first time since 1973. Last year the team defeated Canada in Group II and then won their play-off tie against Switzerland to graduate to the top tier of the competition. They have a winning 6-3 record in the Fed Cup since 2015.
Reflecting on the latest triumph, Halep believes it will help inspire the next generation of players in her home country. During an interview with Telekom Sport on Sunday, the former world No.1 say she will ‘give her all’ to the team this year.
“It was a very tensed match, it was even harder in the stands. I was very nervous. Monica asked me before if I want to get in court, but I told her she is better.” The Romanian Journal quoted Halep as saying.
“We all made a huge effort for this game. We played against a big champion, Czech Republic. the girls are extraordinary, they left their heart on the court, so they managed to win.
“As I said before, this year I am giving all for the Fed Cup team. It is a huge step for us, for our country. The little ones who start playing tennis can trust us. This Fed Cup means something.”
Hoping to reach the final for the first time in history, Romania will take on France in the semi-finals in April. A country they last played back in 1976 at the Spectrum Stadium in Philadelphia, America. France defeated Belgium 3-1 in their quarter-final tie.
The semi-final tie will be held in France at a yet to be confirmed venue. In the other semi-final, Australia will take on Belarus.
Belarus, France Cruise Into Fed Cup Semifinals
It was a day to remember for Aryna Sabalenka and Caroline Garcia in their Fed Cup ties on Sunday.
Aryna Sabalenka has guided Belarus into the semi-finals of the Fed Cup for only the second time in history following a dominant performance on the second day of her country’s tie against Germany.
Belarus had a 2-0 lead over Germany heading into the final day of the clash. World No.9 Sabalenka clinched the unassailable lead for Belarus after thrashing Laura Siegemund 6-1, 6-1, after 79 minutes of play. Sabalenka blasted 19 winners past her German opponent and converted five out of nine break point opportunities. Giving her a perfect record in singles matches over the weekend. On Saturday Sabalenka dropped only three games in her opening match against Andrea Petkovic.
“I’m so happy and our team are so happy and it’s an unbelievable result to win 3-0 and to win two matches, it’s incredible,” Sabalenka told fedcup.com after the match.
“I know she’s a great player, she plays consistent tennis. She has a tricky game and it’s really tough to play against her, but I was watching her matches to see what she was doing on the court.”
30-year-old Siegemund, who was playing in only her third Fed Cup tie, admitted that she failed to capitalize on her chances she had in the match. Germany has now been relegated to the World Group play-offs. They will find out their opponents on Tuesday when the draw is made.
“I didn’t take my chances.” Said Siegemund. “I had a few, but at the moment she plays so aggressive and solid that it’s really hard. When you get chances you get them once and then you feel sometimes pressure that you have to do it now and you start to rush it a little bit, maybe. I think she’s just a very good player.”
The 4-0 victory for Belarus was secured in the women’s doubles. Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka teamed up with Lidziya Marozava to defeat Mona Barthel and Anna-Lena Groenefeld 6-1, 0-6, 11-9.
“I feel really happy, obviously our tie was over before I stepped onto the court, which, in one way the stress is relieved, but I was really looking forward to playing my singles today.” Azarenka said afterwards.
Belarus will play either America or Australia in the next round of the competition. It is the second time they have reached the semi-final stage after 2017, when they finished runners-up.
Garcia guides France to glory
In the Belgian city of Liege, Caroline Garcia clinched the crucial victory for France in their tie against Belgium. After coming through a tense three-set clash against Alison Van Uytvanck on Saturday, the world No.19 cruised past Elise Mertens. Garcia broke Mertens three times to win 6-2, 6-3. Rewarding France with their third win in the rubber.
“I’ve really enjoyed this weekend. I felt good on court – I had good preparation with my match yesterday, it gave me confidence, and in the warm up I was feeling good.” Said Garcia.
“I only had good stress today, so it was more enjoyable. And I played really well on the big points, made good choices of shots.”
There was some joy for Belgian fans in the women’s doubles, which completed the tie. Kirsten Flipkens and Ysaline Bonaventure defeated their French rivals 6-3, 3-6, 10-6. Putting the final score of the tie to 3-1 in France’s favour.
“The girls have been fantastic. I did not expect a score like that. I am really very happy and very proud of the way they played.” French team captain Julien Benneteau said during an interview with RMC TV.
France are two-time winners of the Fed Cup. They last won the competition back in 2003.
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