By Tom Garry
BBC Sport at University of Bath
|Fed Cup: Group I Europe/Africa Zone|
|Venue:University of BathDates:6-9 February 2019|
|Coverage:BBC website will have live text commentaries on selected GB matches|
Katie Boulter put Great Britain on the verge of April’s Fed Cup promotion play-offs by beating Serbia’s Ivana Jorovic in straight sets in Bath.
The British number two’s 6-4 6-3 win gave her team the ideal start to Saturday’s crucial best-of-three tie.
If Johanna Konta beats Aleksandra Krunic next, Britain will win and move a step closer to World Group II.
Boulter’s victory was her fourth in four days, maintaining her 100% Fed Cup record.
“I am close to tears right now. It has been a really long week,” Boulter said.
“It means everything and so much more. I put everything on the court and have so much heart. It just means so much to me.”
The hosts – who triumphed in all three of their round-robin matches between Wednesday and Friday to top Group A – are bidding to reach the World Group II play-offs for a third successive year.
Should Konta be beaten by Serbia’s world number 57 Krunic, the tie will be decided by a final doubles rubber, in which Harriet Dart and Katie Swan are set to play for Great Britain against Krunic and Olga Danilovic.
Boulter puts ‘heart on the line’
Boulter, 22, has taken the responsibility of leading out the hosts in her stride, taking charge of all four of her opening sets and going on to deliver four valuable wins, unfazed by a growing gaze of media spotlight and ever-so-slightly easing the pressure on Konta.
Leicester-born Boulter, who battled through a thriller against Hungary’s Dalma Galfi to win in a third-set tie-break on Friday, needed no such drama to overcome Jorovic on Saturday, coming through in one hour 28 minutes.
Jorovic, ranked 34 places lower than world number 83 Boulter, was the more error-prone and the Briton took advantage to win six of her 11 break points, to the delight of another sold-out crowd at the University of Bath.
“I came in to this week not knowing what to expect,” said the Briton, who before this week had only played two Fed Cup doubles matches. “To come out with four wins is probably better than I imagined.
“I wasn’t going in to this week thinking ‘I’m going to win four matches’. I was just putting my heart on the line and doing the best that I can, and then seeing what comes of it.
“Playing for your country is a little different to just playing for yourself. You’re trying to make people proud.
“I cannot even tell you what the feeling is when you’re walk out on to that stage, when you’re got everyone chanting [for you] and what have you.
“It is very special and hopefully I can replicate that many more times.”
Will Britain finally return to the World Group?
Britain have played outside the Fed Cup’s top two tiers since 1993, but – including Saturday’s tie against the Serbs – still need to win two more fixtures in a row to go up to World Group II.
At this third-tier, Europe/Africa zone Group I event in Bath, there were initially eight teams – split into two groups – taking part, with only the group winners GB and Serbia meeting for a chance to progress.
The hosts remain without Heather Watson, who has been ill throughout the week.