Great Britain level with Kazakhstan in Fed Cup World Group II Play-Off in London
Last Updated: 21/04/19 1:10pm
Katie Boulter suffered a heartbreaking defeat as Great Britain were forced to go in level with Kazakhstan after the opening day of their Fed Cup World Group II Play-Off at London's Copper Box Arena.
Johanna Konta battled to a 10th consecutive Fed Cup singles victory to give Britain the early advantage over their opponents before Boulter failed to take advantage of three match points before suffering a heartbreaking 3-6 6-2 7-6 (8-6) defeat to Yulia Putintseva in the second rubber.
Konta lost five of the first six games to 107th-ranked Zarina Diyas but used her power advantage to turn the match around and secure a 4-6 6-3 6-2 win.
"I thought I played a very tough opponent," said Konta. "Nothing's easy in Fed Cup but I knew that. I'm very happy to have fought my way through that first set and come through and given us the 1-0."
The long-awaited home advantage was diluted somewhat by a noisy band of Kazakh supporters, including two drummers and an enthusiastic trombonist, and the British team complained several times about interruptions, but it was the home fans who ultimately had the most to celebrate.
Having trailed 5-1 and looked distinctly nervous, Konta began to settle and fought back to 5-4 before Diyas, who had only lost one of 15 previous singles matches in the competition, clinched the opening set.
The British No 1 carried her relative momentum into the second set, although not without saving two crucial break points in the first game, and opened up a 5-0 lead, eventually clinching it on her sixth opportunity.
Boulter, 22, made her singles debut in the competition in the regional group played in Bath in February and won all four matches but 38th-ranked Putintseva was a big step up in class.
Boulter loves the big occasion and she rose to it superbly in the first set, blasting a succession of winners. But she appeared to pick up an injury early in the second and both her serve and movement suffered.
However, by the start of the third she was back to her form of the opener and she powered her way into a 4-0 lead.
Boutler was unable to serve out the victory at 5-2, however, and then saw Putintseva repel a barrage of shots brilliantly to save a match point at 5-6 and force a deciding tie-break.
Boulter put the disappointment behind her to lead 6-4 in the tie-break only for Putintseva to save two more match points and then take her own chance when Boulter netted an attempted sliced backhand.
The volatile 24-year-old dropped to her knees and pumped her fist before celebrating with her supporters, while Boulter had to be consoled on her chair by captain Anne Keothavong.
Speaking later, she said: "I am devastated, clearly. I expect her to play well on the big points, that's why she's ranked where she is. She's a competitor, she's got a great game.
"Of course it's tough not to come through the match points and it's going to be replaying in my head for sure for a while, but I'm going to get over it and I'm going to get ready for tomorrow and bring some game."
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