FED CUP – February 2015 by Steve Webb
I flew out of Heathrow on Sunday 1 February to Budapest and booked into the Danubius Hotel Arena that was across the road from the Syma Event and Congress Centre in which the Fed Cup Tennis was being played. I met the rest of the BATS members at breakfast on the Monday morning – Mary Pope, Joanne Rorison, Maurice Baldwin, Sylvia Maybry, Lynne Moran and Sue Richardson. During breakfast we could see several of the teams in the Fed Cup and we tried to identify as many players as we could. By the weekend we had seen players of 12 countries but not Great Britain who were staying somewhere else.
As the tennis did not start until Wednesday that gave us two days to explore Budapest, so we caught the M2 Metro to the City Centre and got the ”Official Hop On Hop Off Budapest City Tour” which gave us unlimited use for 2 days. We started with the Red Line Tour for the morning, after which we had lunch and did the boat trip on the Danube in the afternoon. On Tuesday we did the Yellow Line in the morning and some of us did the walking tour in the afternoon whilst others visited other attractions.
On Wednesday morning we took the short walk across the road to the tennis arena. The 15 countries playing this year were split into 4 pools ‘A’ had 3 teams and ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ had 4 each. GB were in Pool B along with Liechtenstein, Turkey and Ukraine. All Pool B matches started at 10am Wednesday along with Pool C matches. Pool A and Pool D matches started at 4pm. There was the Centre Court and Courts 1,2, and 3 in the Main Hall.
GB’s first opponents on Wednesday were Liechtenstein on Court 2, the No 2 players played first and so Konta played Van Deichmann in the opening rubber. Konta played some great tennis in the first set and easily won 6-0 in 22 minutes. The 2nd set was much of the same and Konta won the 2nd set 6-0 in 23 minutes. She only allowed Van Deichmann 1 game point on her own serve. Next was the No1 players, Watson v’ Vogt. In the 1st Set Watson went 3-1 up before losing her serve but then broke Vogt twice in succession to win the set 6-2 in 27 minutes. In the 2nd set it was a repeat, Watson went 3-1 up with a break, was broken to 3-2, broke back to 4-2 and ran out a winner 6-3 in 37 minutes to give GB a 2-0 lead in rubbers. Finally it was the turn of our doubles team Rae and Smith against the two players from Liechtenstein who played in the singles rubbers. In the 1st set the GB girls broke twice and won the set 6-1 in 21 minutes. In the 2nd set GB broke in the 1st game, broke again in the 7th game and won the set 6-2 in 26 minutes never losing their serve in the match. GB 3 Liechtenstein 0.
GB’s second opponents on Thursday were Turkey again on Court 2. Konta v Soylu was the 1st Match on court. Konta got off to a fine start in the 1st set by breaking serve in the 1st game and only winning after 11 minutes of play. She went 2-1 up but then there were 3 breaks of serve to level the score at 3-3, Turkey broke again to lead 5-3 and won the set 6-3 in 56 minutes. In the 2nd set the score was 4-4 after a break each and went to 6-6 with no more breaks. In the tie break Turkey won 7-5 in points and the set in 61 minutes. Watson’s opponent was Buyukakcay and in the 1st set Watson had a very bad start going 4-0 down and never recovered losing the set 6-2 in 28minutes. In the 2nd set it went with serve to 2-2, Turkey broke then GB broke back with another break to lead 5-3 and GB won the set 6-3 in 40 minutes. In the 3rd set there were 4 breaks to make the score 4-4, then Turkey led 6-5 and broke Watson to win the set 7-5 in 56 minutes and the match by 2 sets to 1 and give Turkey a 2-0 lead in rubbers. In the doubles Rae & Smith played Eraydin & Ozgen and had no trouble at all winning 6-2 in the 1st set with 2 breaks and broke twice again in the 2nd set to win that 6-1 in a total match time of 49 minutes. However Turkey had won both singles and won the match overall by 2 rubbers to 1.
Now we come to CRUNCH TIME FRIDAY, here with Turkey looking to beat Liechtenstein 3-0 and win all 6 sets, GB had to beat Ukraine at least 2-1 and win a set in the 3rd Rubber in order to top the Group and play in the Promotional play-off match on Saturday.
In the 1st rubber Konta played Tsurenko. In the 5th game of the 1st set Konta broke to 3-2 and broke again in the 9th game to win the set 6-3 in 45 minutes. At the start of the 2nd Set Ukraine broke but Konta broke back in the 4th game to level at 2-2, won 5th game with an ace, broke in 6th game to lead 4-2 and broke in 8th game to win set 6-2 in 39 mins and put GB 1 rubber up. In the 2nd Rubber matched Watson against Svitolina. The 1st set was on serve until Ukraine broke to lead 4-2 and then broke again in 8th game to win the set 6-2 in 33 minutes. In the 2nd set there were no breaks until 2-2 and then we had 7 consecutive breaks of serve which resulted in Watson leading 6-5. She then held serve and won the set 7-5 in 52 minutes. The 3rd set was a very tight one which had Watson breaking just once in the 5th game and resulted in Watson winning the set 6-4 in 33 minutes and the match by 2 sets to 1 and giving GB a 2-0 rubbers lead.
Now it was ALL to play for in the doubles. Rae & Smith played Savchuk & Svitolina and in the 1st set there were 6 breaks of serve and GB had to break in the 12th game to force a tie break which they lost and so Ukraine were 1 set up. In the 2nd set Ukraine went 3-0 with a break in the 2nd game, GB broke back in the 5th game, then both teams held serve to leave Ukraine leading 5-4. Rae then had to hold serve to stay in the match. Ukraine then had a MATCH POINT that was saved and Rae won the game to level the score at 5-5. GB broke to lead 6-5 and then served out to win set 7-5 in 48 minutes. The 3rd set was a very tight one, GB got off to a great start breaking in the 1st game. There were no more breaks until the 7th game when Ukraine broke but GB broke back in the next game to lead 5-3. Finally Rae served and won the 10th game to win the 3rd set 6-4 and the match by 2 sets to 1.
GB having won all 3 rubbers finished top of the Group with 7-2 rubbers and Turkey had to settle for 2nd place with 6-3 Rubbers after beating Liechtenstein 3-0.
Saturday was the Promotion, Relegation and Placement matches for the teams. GB winners of Pool B played their Promotion match against Belarus winners of Pool C.
In the 1st Match Konta played Govortsova, the 1st set was over in 25 mins with Govortsova breaking Konta 3 times and winning the set 6-0. The 2nd set was no better with Konta only holding serve once and losing 6-1 in 27 mins to give Belarus a 1-0 lead in Rubbers in only 54 mins of play.
The second match was Watson v Azarenka, in the 1st Set Azarenka led 3-0 before Watson held serve in the 4th game and then broke Azarenka in the 8th game to level the score at 4-4 but Azarenka then raised her level and broke Watson in the 10th game to win the set 6-4 in 35 mins. In the 2nd set Watson only manages to hold serve once and Azarenka with 2 breaks of serve ran out a winner 6-1 in 38 mins to win the match and complete a 2-0 win in Rubbers for Belarus, thus securing a place in the Group 2 playoffs to be held 18/19th April and having an away tie in Japan. GB having lost will now compete again next year in Europe/Africa Zone Group 1 to be held again in Budapest.
The other promoted team for the Group 2 playoffs was Serbia who beat Croatia and Serbia now has a home tie with Paraguay. Teams relegated to Europe/Africa Zone Group 2 were Liechtenstein who lost to Portugal and Austria who lost to Latvia. Teams promoted from Europe/Africa Zone Group 2 to Europe /Africa Zone Group1 for next years competition were Estonia and South Africa.