Katie Boulter won 6-4 6-2 on her Fed Cup debut to set Great Britain up for a comfortable 3-0 victory over Slovenia in their opening Pool A match in Bath.
The Briton, 22, seemed a bit nervous early on as she laboured to her first hold. However, once she settled down, she looked in irresistible form as she brushed aside Kaja Juvan.
Boulter took her first break point of the match to forge ahead in game five, and then held serve easily in the rest of the set to clinch it 6-4.
The World No.83 then turned on the style in the second set. She served well, finished points clinically at the net and hit a host of superb winners from both wings.
It was the perfect start to the week for Britain, and Boulter beamed as she thanked the crowd at the University of Bath for their raucous support.
Konta battles to tense victory
British No.1 Johanna Konta did not make her match against Dalila Jakupovic look so easy. She eventually won 7-6 6-2 after an unbearably tense first set when both players struggled for consistency.
In a sign of things to come, the Briton dropped her serve in game three. She then broke back immediately by winning a marathon game that lasted over ten minutes.
Konta then moved 4-2 ahead with another break, and the heavily partisan crowd visibly relaxed. However, they were soon feeling uncomfortable again as the Briton meekly surrended her advantage in the next game.
The rest of the set was frankly ridiculous, as both players hit some excellent winners and made several puzzling errors. Consequently, there were four consecutive breaks from 4-4 to 6-6 which set up a tie-break.
More drama ensued. Konta seemed down and out when she fell 4-1 and 6-3 behind. However, she refused to give in and hustled Jakupovic into a couple of errors to draw level at 6-6.
The Slovenian saved one set point at 6-7, but the Briton took her second set point to win the tie-break 9-7.
When the higher-ranked player wins a tight opening set, the second set is often much easier for them, and that is exactly what happened here.
Konta seemed more confident and twice broke Jakupovic to love to lead 4-1. The Serb showed some resistance in the remaining games but it was too little, too late as the Briton wrapped up the set 6-2.
Swan and Dart serve up doubles delight
With the tie over, Katie Swan and Harriet Dart took to the court to face Jakupovic and Juvan in the doubles.
Buoyed by their teammates’ victories, the British pair produced an excellent display to beat the Slovenian pair 6-2 6-2 in just under 90 minutes.
Swan was playing her first Fed Cup Doubles rubber and Dart was taking part in her first Fed Cup match of any kind, but neither showed any sign of nerves as they raced into a 5-0 lead.
The Slovenians then gained a foothold by winning the next two games, and they briefly raised hopes of an unlikely fightback when they earned two break points in game eight. However, the Britons held on to clinch the set 6-2.
The second set followed a similar pattern, as Swan and Dart went a double break up, only for Jakupovic and Juvan to peg them back to 4-2 once more.
But the British pair were in no mood for a lengthy set. They broke the Slovenians again and won a lengthy eighth game on serve to finish off the match and the tie.
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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