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Fed Cup: Katie Boulter puts Great Britain ahead against Hungary

  • Posted: Feb 08, 2019
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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Berdych Saves 2 M.P. To Reach Montpellier Semi-finals

  • Posted: Feb 08, 2019

Berdych Saves 2 M.P. To Reach Montpellier Semi-finals

Shapovalov and Tsonga feature later today

Tomas Berdych saved two match points on Friday to keep alive his chances of winning the Open Sud de France for the second time. The 2012 champion scraped past Filip Krajinovic of Serbia 7-6(3), 6-7(5), 7-5 in two hours and 42 minutes for a place in the semi-finals.

Berdych looked on course for his 10th match win of the year when he led Krajinovic by a set and a break, at 4-3 in the second set. But Krajinovic surged back and broke in the first game of the decider en route to a 5-3 advantage. At 4-5, Berdych saved two match points from 15/40 and went onto win 14 of the next 18 points to complete victory.

The 33-year-old Czech, who fell to No. 79 in ATP Rankings on 28 January, his lowest position since No. 79 on 16 August 2004, will next play third-seeded NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov or seventh seed Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France on Saturday.

Later today, during the night session, sixth seed Jeremy Chardy takes on fellow Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a three-time former semi-finalist, and Cypriot qualifier Marcos Baghdatis challenges Radu Albot of Macedonia.

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Mektic/Melzer Edge Into Sofia Doubles Final

  • Posted: Feb 08, 2019

Mektic/Melzer Edge Into Sofia Doubles Final

Dodig/Roger-Vasselin move into Montpellier final

Nikola Mektic and Jurgen Melzer edged through to their first ATP Tour team final on Friday with a 5-7, 6-4, 10-6 victory over Indians Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Purav Raja in 89 minutes at the Sofia Open.

Third-seeded Indians Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan, winners of the Tata Open Maharashtra trophy last month, will take on Cheng-Peng Hsieh and Christopher Rungkat in the semi-finals, following a 6-3, 6-1 win over wild cards Alexander Donski and Alexandar Lazarov.

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At the Open Sud de France, top seeds Ivan Dodig and Edouard Roger-Vasselin booked their places in the final with a 6-3, 7-6(3) victory over Leander Paes and Benoit Paire in 80 minutes. They now await the winners of French wild cards Benjamin Bonzi and Antoine Hoang, or Britons Luke Bambridge and Jonny O’Mara.

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Berrettini Solid On Serve In Sofia

  • Posted: Feb 08, 2019

Berrettini Solid On Serve In Sofia

Tsitsipas plays Monfils during night session

Italy’s Matteo Berrettini grew in confidence on serve on Friday to beat sixth-seeded Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 in two hours and 22 minutes for a place in the Sofia Open semi-finals.

Verdasco recovered from 0/40, when serving at 3-3, but was broken in the 11th game of the second set. Berrettini, the 2018 Gstaad champion, gave little away on serve in the second and third sets — losing just eight of his first-service points. At one stage, the 22-year-old won 12 of 14 points, including a service break for a 3-2 lead in the decider.

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Berrettini will now face Marton Fucsovics, who celebrated his 27th birthday by advancing to the second ATP Tour semi-final of his career. The Hungarian was awarded a walkover when his opponent, 2016 champion and fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut, withdrew, prior to their first meeting, due to illness. Last year, Fucsovics won his first ATP Tour title in Geneva (d. Gojowczyk).

Later today, third-seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev takes on Martin Klizan of Slovakia and second-seeded Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals titlist, faces seventh seed Gael Monfils of France.

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Schwartzman Rallies; Munar Pulls Off Upset In Cordoba

  • Posted: Feb 08, 2019

Schwartzman Rallies; Munar Pulls Off Upset In Cordoba

Argentine going for third clay-court title

Diego Schwartzman delighted the home crowd on Thursday at the Cordoba Open by reaching his second quarter-final of the season.

The third-seeded Argentine came back from a set down to beat Italian qualifier Alessandro Giannessi 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-0. Schwartzman converted only two of his 11 break points in the opening set, but locked in during the second and third (4/9).

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The Buenos Aires native is going for his third title (Rio de Janeiro 2018, Istanbul 2016; both on clay) at the inaugural event. He will meet eighth-seeded countryman Guido Pella for a place in the semi-finals.

Pella won 72 per cent of his first-serve points and swept Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-4, 7-6(4). The Argentine recovered after seeing his first two match points come and go, including one as Ramos-Vinolas served at 4-5, 30/40.

In another Argentina-Spain matchup, home favourite Federico Delbonis beat 2018 Quito Open champion Roberto Carballes Baena 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-2. Delbonis next faces Spain’s Jaume Munar, who upset second seed Marco Cecchinato of Italy 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.

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The 21-year-old, who made the semi-finals of the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals, won all three break points he faced against the 2018 Roland Garros semi-finalist.

Two other seeds also didn’t make it out of the second round. Top seed Fabio Fognini lost 6-1, 6-4 to Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene, who will meet wild card Pablo Cuevas in the quarter-finals. The six-time ATP Tour titlist beat sixth seed Malek Jaziri of Tunisia 7-6(5), 6-2.

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Fed Cup 2019: Line judges criticised by Greek players in GB win

  • Posted: Feb 08, 2019

Greek player Maria Sakkari described the line judges as “the worst I have ever seen in my life” in her Fed Cup defeat by Britain’s Johanna Konta.

The world number 38 said they “were not professional” in a 4-6 6-2 6-3 defeat in Bath that featured a number of questionable calls.

“This is unacceptable. They were making a lot of mistakes,” Sakkari said. “We cannot have amateurs.”

Konta also complained about several calls, including one on match point.

“I think it was quite tough at both our ends but when it’s such a tough match like that – so many heightened emotions – the line judges will feel the same kind of pressure, the same kind of stress,” said Konta, whose win over Sakkari sealed victory for Great Britain in the Group A tie.

“Everybody’s human, but it was definitely a hard thing to contend with.”

The round-robin event – which is being held in Britain for the first time in 26 years – does not have Hawk-Eye technology to review line calls but Konta said “it’s the challenge we face” and added it was “the nature of the game”.

Lawn Tennis Association tournament director Rebecca James said: “The officials selected for this event by the Association of British Tennis Officials (ABTO) have all worked at the highest levels of the game.

“The chair umpires are internationally certified and selected by the ITF. The lines people are all paid, LTA licensed officials, who have worked Wimbledon semi-finals and finals between them, including many on previous Davis Cup World Group ties.”

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World number 171 Valentini Grammatikopoulou, who had earlier lost 6-3 4-6 6-3 to British number two Katie Boulter, described the umpiring as “unfair” and “not so good”.

“I’m really disappointed,” she said. “It’s really unfair to play like this. Three calls were in deuce. You can watch it actually and I will show her the balls were out.”

“She [Boulter] deserved to win but let’s play fair. That’s why we play tennis, you know? Not to judge the lines. It’s really tough. It’s not about how she played, it’s about fair play.

“If the ball was out, I accept. If the ball was in, I accept. But not if it’s really clearly out. It doesn’t matter anymore but if I want to lose, I want to lose nice.”

Boulter, 22, also complained during the match when an overruled call denied her two break points at the end of the second set.

“There were a couple of bad calls here or there, whether they were good or bad I don’t know,” said Boulter. “There was a let that I thought wasn’t called – it goes both ways.”

GB captain Anne Keothavong added: “The line-calling today didn’t affect the outcome of the matches. There were tight line calls. Some of the bad line calls went both ways, but that’s tennis.

“There was a lot of tension out there. But my brother’s an official so I’m sympathetic to officials these days. It’s not easy out there for them too.”

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Baghdatis Boots Defending Champ Pouille In Montpellier

  • Posted: Feb 08, 2019

Baghdatis Boots Defending Champ Pouille In Montpellier

Cypriot to meet Albot in SF

Marcos Baghdatis pulled off a stunner at the Open Sud de France on Thursday evening in Montpellier, upsetting defending champion and top seed Lucas Pouille 7-6(2), 6-7(3), 6-4.

The 33-year-old Cypriot came back from a break down in the opener and broke twice more in the decider to earn his first Top 20 victory since last year’s Wimbledon when he beat then-No. 7 Dominic Thiem.

Baghdatis is into his first tour-level quarter-final of the season and will meet Moldova’s Radu Albot for a semi-final spot at the ATP Tour 250. And to think, Baghdatis almost didn’t make it out of qualifying.

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The World No. 128 trailed No. 461 Antoine Cornut-Chauvinc by a set in the first round of qualifying, but rallied and has dropped only one set since, including qualifying matches.

Pouille won their first FedEx ATP Head2Head series clash at last year’s US Open. Just two weeks ago, he reached the Australian Open semi-finals, his best Grand Slam result.

But Baghdatis, playing in his first tour-level event of the year, stayed focused as the home crowd tried to rally their defending champion. Serving for the match, Baghdatis erased a break point and clinched the second rounder with only his third and fourth aces.

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Albot reached the fourth tour-level quarter-final of his career by beating Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4 in two hours and 34 minutes. If Albot defeats Baghdatis, he will advance to just his second ATP Tour semi-final (Metz 2018).

Did You Know?
Baghdatis is pursuing his first tour-level semi-final since Chengdu in 2017. The Cypriot last captured a title in 2010 at Sydney.

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