Billie Jean King Cup: Heather Watson & Katie Boulter give Nice Britain lead over Mexico


Katie Boulter reached a career high of 82 in 2019 before an injury hampered her progress

Conference location: National Tennis Center, Roehampton Events: 16.-17. April
Cover: Check out the live coverage on the BBC Red Button and BBC Sport website and app (Friday, 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. CET; Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 1,500 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.: 00 o’clock).

Heather Watson and Katie Boulter have put Great Britain in control of their Billie Jean King Cup play-off against Mexico with convincing wins.

Boulter was tested early in a 7: 5: 6: 0 win over Marcela Zacarias before Watson defeated Giuliana Olmos 7: 5: 6: 1 and brought the hosts 2: 0 in the best-of-five duel .

The draw at the National Tennis Center in Roehampton continues on Saturday with the singles reversed.

The win would give Britain a qualifying win for the 2022 final.

“I don’t think I could have asked for more,” said GB captain Anne Keothavong.

“It was a fantastic performance from Katie and Heather. They both got through difficult first sentences but when they could relax and find their groove they got strong and that’s what matters.”

The Billie Jean King Cup is the new name for the Fed Cup, the international women’s team event in which Great Britain finished runner-up four times but never won.

Two reverse singles and a double rubber are planned for Saturday. Watson can end the tie if they beat Zacarias in the opening game of the day (11:30 BST).

Watson overcomes early nerves

With British number one Johanna Konta going missing while tackling a longstanding knee problem, veteran Watson is the top ranked player with 68th place in the world.

There was a 366 rankings gap between her and Olmos, which wasn’t reflected in a tight opening set where they swapped breaks in four of the first five games.

Watson used her powerful forehand to great effect to set target values ​​for the Mexican’s serve, finishing her off with a forehand winner.

A break in game four of the second set, which included a nice angled forehand on the net that found the line, proved key as Watson reached forward and converted the first of her two match points as Olmos returned a long serve.

“It was a little nervous, I want to make my country proud,” said Watson, who has now won 30 of her 43 games in the competition.

“In the second set I felt more comfortable, I got more online. I feel very happy and can hardly wait until tomorrow.”

Boulter’s Early Win & Teammate Tambourines

The atmosphere couldn’t have been more different than Boulter’s last appearance in the Fed Cup two years ago, when she secured victory in a play-off against Kazakhstan in a crowded and noisy Copper Box Arena in London.

Here it was her teammates and the coaching team who did their best to make noise behind closed doors. Katie Swan and Jodie Burrage on their feet shook red tambourines between the points.

Boulter made a slow start, losing her opening game before falling back in game four.

She showed her trademark to save two breakpoints with some well-placed serves going up 6-5 and sealed the set when Zacarias hit a backhand.

From then on, the Briton didn’t look back and found depth and speed in her shots to run through a 26-minute second set. She won her third match point with a strong backhand winner across the field.

“I was a little nervous at first,” said Boulter, who is six places below her opponent with 291 points but was in the top 100 two years ago before a back injury worsened in the Fed Cup put her on hold.

“It was a very tight first set and I managed to squeeze it through. It really helped me relax and so I played really good tennis on the second set.”

Jodie Burrage and Katie Swan with tambourinesTeammates Jodie Burrage and Katie Swan helped with a different type of racketBanner image reading around the BBC - BlueFooter - Blue