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Ladies Tennis Fed Cup Results • Great Britain Loses To Japan In A Heartbreaker

France’s supporters cheer during the Fed Cup World Group semi final tie between France and the USA, in Aix-en-Provence, southern France, 21 April 2018. EPA-EFE/GUILLAUME HORCAJUELO





Hosts Japan narrowly defeated the GB Fed Cup team 3-2 on a thrilling Sunday evening at the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II Play-Off at the Bourbon Beans Dome in Miki (north of Kobe). The winning nation will be promoted to the World Group II in 2019.


First on at 12 noon local time Johanna Konta (WR-23) played one of her best matches of the season to beat rising star Naomi Osaka (WR-22) 63 63. The British No.1 did a brilliant job of managing her own service games, despite a lowly first serve percentage of 42% in the first set, the quality of her second serving meant that she didn’t face a break point until her 7th service game of the match. Konta won five games in a row from 2-3 down in the first set, crucially held from 15-40 at 2-2 in the second saving the only break points she faced in the match and decisively broke in the next game. Johanna held on impressively and claimed the match after 75 minutes.


Konta said after, “I knew going into the match against Naomi I wasn’t going to have much say sometimes. I felt very comfortable just knowing I was going to have to work hard, hang in there but at the same tome take my opportunities and felt overall I got the balance just right. I was really happy with how I executed.”


In a nail-biting second singles, Japanese No.2 Kurumi Nara (WR-100) refused to lie down to Heather Watson levelling the tie at 2-2 by winning 76(7) 64. Britain’s No.2 Watson seemed in control breaking twice from 2-3 to lead 5-3 but failed to serve out the set in the 9th game, held for 6-5 and missed three consecutive set points in the tiebreak before conceding it 9-7 after 64 minutes. In the second, world ranked No.77 Watson did well to recover from 0-3 to 3-3 and broke back from 3-5 only to drop serve a sixth time in the match, which lasted 1:47.


With the tie poised at 2-2, Britain’s highest ranked players Konta and Watson went up against the experienced Japanese combination of Miya Kato and Makoto Ninomiya only to fall 36 63 63 in 2:11 – a match that concluded at 6:36pm local time. This was a match of streaks with Britain winning five games in a row to lead 5-2 en route to clinching the first set. The momentum shifted Japan’s way in the second set when Konta dropped serve after leading 40-15, and GB missed 15-40 in the third game, 30-0 in the 4th and 30-40 in the fifth to find themselves 0-5 behind. It was nip and tuck in the decider as games went with serve until Watson was broken in the 7th game and Japan ran out the last four games of the final rubber.


Captain Anne Keothavong said, “Right now we are gutted about the result. One day our opportunity will come. If you keep knocking on the door, it will eventually open. It wasn’t to be this year but who is to say, it won’t be next year? I said all along it was going to be who was going to be who produced the better tennis on the day would win. That was Japan today and I congratulate them on their victory. The Japanese players were definitely able to rise to the occasion with the home support. I dearly hope our team get that opportunity. I’m proud of the effort both Jo and Heather put in today in singles and doubles and despite the short turn-around time (30 mins following Watson’s singles) I have no doubts that was the right decision for them to play the doubles.”


Konta also said, “We have to recognise the effort we have put in the last two years getting out of the zone. People underestimate the task it is to get out of that Euro Africa Zone group. Some of the best nations are in that group when you look at the depth of the other zonal groups around the world. I’m very proud of the fact we keep putting ourselves in this position.”


Heather Watson added, “We left everything we had out there. As Jo said, one of these days, things will eventually go our way.”



NOTES • Buy tickets. A great summer of tennis is set for 2018!



GB is currently ranked No.16 amongst 104 nations on the latest ITF Fed Cup rankings.


This is the fourth World Group II Play-Off Great Britain find themselves in the last seven years after falling to Sweden in 2012, Argentina in 2013 and Romania in 2017 at this stage.


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