|Fed Cup: Group I Europe/Africa Zone|
|Venue: University of Bath Dates: 6-9 February 2019|
|Coverage: BBC website will have live text commentaries on selected GB matches|
Katie Boulter battled to a gripping three-set win over Hungary’s Dalma Galfi to edge Great Britain closer to topping their Fed Cup group.
The British number two won 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-1) in two hours 22 minutes in front of a noisy home crowd in Bath.
“My whole heart, I put on that line there,” Boulter said.
Johanna Konta faces Anna Bondar next, knowing victory will put Great Britain into Saturday’s play-off against Group B winners Serbia.
The winners of that play-off will progress to April’s World Group II play-offs, where they will get the chance of promotion to the second tier of women’s team tennis.
But a defeat for Konta in Friday’s second singles rubber would mean the tie would be decided by the doubles match, in which Harriet Dart and Katie Swan are set to represent the hosts.
Boulter thrives in the big points late on
Boulter and world number 311 Galfi came into Friday’s enthralling match with 100% singles records so far this week, although the in-form 20-year-old Hungarian had required just four sets to overcome Greece’s Valentini Grammatikopoulou and Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan.
Yet Boulter – seemingly unfazed by the responsibility of leading out the hosts – put in another mature display in the first set and looked on course for a relatively routine win. She was two breaks up within 12 minutes on her way to taking the first set.
However, a fearless Galfi defied her world ranking to strike back, serving dominantly in the second set before taking control of the tie-break to level the match, and then moving a break up in the third, before 22-year-old Boulter found the strength to hit back herself.
In the third-set tie-break, Boulter took the initiative, quickly moving into a 5-0 lead and then setting up five match points, serving at 6-1. She needed just one of them, as Galfi sliced her forehand return wide, sending the home fans wild.
“Thank you so much for helping me out,” she told the crowd. “This is everything to me. This means so much.
“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.”
Can Britain finally return to the World Group?
Britain have played outside the Fed Cup’s top two tiers since 1993 but are bidding to reach the World Group II play-offs for a third successive year.
But – including Friday’s tie – they still need to win three consecutive fixtures to be promoted, with Group B winners Serbia lying in wait on Saturday, before April’s play-off.
At this third-tier, Europe/Africa zone Group I event in Bath, there are eight teams – split into two groups – taking part and the two group winners will meet on Saturday to decide who progresses.
Before meeting on Friday, Hungary and GB had two wins from two, while Serbia overcame Croatia earlier on Friday to finish top of Group B.
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