Apr 23, 2018
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Fed Cup: Johanna Konta wins after Heather Watson loses to Naomi Osaka

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Fed Cup: Johanna Konta wins after Heather Watson loses to Naomi Osaka

Fed Cup: Johanna Konta’s shot of the day as she beats Japan’s Kurumi Nara
Japan v Nice Britain – Fed Cup World Group II play-off
Venue: Bourbon Beans Dome, Miki, Japan Dates: 21-22 April
Protection: Stay TV streaming on the BBC Sport web site and cell app, BBC Radio 5 stay updates, plus stay textual content commentary on 22 April

Johanna Konta levelled Nice Britain’s Fed Cup promotion play-off in Japan after Heather Watson misplaced the opening match to Naomi Osaka.

Britain, who’re bidding to succeed in the World Group for the primary time in 25 years, trailed when Watson was crushed 6-2 6-Three by world quantity 22 Osaka.

Konta gained 6-Four 6-2 towards Kurumi Nara in Saturday’s second singles in Miki.

The most effective-of-five tie concludes with a doubles rubber and the reverse singles from 04:00 BST on Sunday.

The BBC Sport web site could have stay protection of Sunday’s matches.

If Britain win, they are going to be promoted to World Group II – the primary time they might have a spot among the many prime 16 groups within the competitors since 1993.

Konta and Watson are joined within the British group by doubles specialist Anna Smith and debutant Gabi Taylor.

Konta comes by way of robust take a look at

Like Osaka towards Watson, Konta needed to cope with the stress of being anticipated to beat her lower-ranked opponent.

Konta has dropped out of the highest 10 and fallen to 23 on the planet after a poor run since reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals final 12 months, however her high quality and resilience helped her to beat world quantity 100 Nara.

She broke Nara’s serve within the first recreation of the match, then noticed off three break factors within the subsequent recreation – an early benefit that proved to be essential.

Nara continued to place the Briton’s serve below stress, not least as she saved three set factors earlier than Konta dug deep to edge forward on the fourth try.

In related trend to the primary set, Konta additionally broke within the opening recreation earlier than heading off break factors to consolidate the benefit, after which went a double break up for a 3-Zero lead.

Nara ultimately broke Konta’s serve for 3-1 however the 26-year-old regained management to go 5-2 up after which serve out for her fifth win in six conferences with Nara.

“All through the entire match she did an unimaginable job of rising to the event and she or he made it very laborious for me,” stated Konta.

“We’ll come again stronger on Sunday and attempt to compete effectively. Naomi is taking part in at a really excessive degree this 12 months so I’ll take pleasure in taking part in towards an in-form participant and do my finest on the market.”

Osaka’s high quality shines by way of

Naomi Osaka has made an ideal begin to her Fed Cup profession, having gained all 5 of her singles

Osaka is among the type gamers on the WTA Tour this 12 months, having claimed her first main title at Indian Wells final month.

It was at all times going to be a tricky begin for Watson, whose rating has dropped to 77 after struggling for type.

The 25-year-old missed an opportunity to interrupt the highly effective Osaka’s serve early within the first set, her Japanese opponent then taking benefit to go 3-1 up after which breaking once more to take the set.

Watson had two break factors within the first recreation of the second set, however 20-year-old Osaka produced two aces to see them off and go on to earn an important maintain.

Osaka broke once more to take a 3-1 lead and, after heading off two break factors for Watson in what proved to be the ultimate recreation, served out by taking her third match level.

Konta is ready to face Osaka, who has misplaced all three earlier conferences with the British primary, in Sunday’s opening singles match, with Watson then assembly Nara earlier than what might be a decisive doubles rubber.

“There’s lots to play for on Sunday and we’re prepared for it,” Britain captain Anne Keothavong informed BBC Sport.

“I really feel the group has ready in addition to we may have executed and the group know what to anticipate – there aren’t any surprises on the market. It is a case of who’s finest on the market on the day.”

* Fed Cup groups are permitted to vary their nominations earlier than Sunday’s matches

Evaluation

BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller

Neither Johanna Konta nor Naomi Osaka fluffed their strains in two aggressive, however in the end comparatively simple matches.

Cheered on by a small however devoted group of British followers (a lot of whom had crossed eight time zones to get right here), Konta broke Kurumi Nara 4 instances and fought off a good quantity of stress on her personal serve.

Within the opening match, Osaka’s energy was at instances breathtaking as she dealt effectively with the problem of main off her nation on the age of simply 20.

She might be having fun with the quick courtroom, and far could now rely on her match with Konta on Sunday. Then once more, Heather Watson and Nara appear evenly matched and any mixture of gamers may but contest the doubles if the tie is on the road.

BBC Sport – Tennis
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