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BJK Cup kicks off with GB in action against Mexico

Great Britain’s Billie Jean King Cup team take on Mexico at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton today, Friday, with Katie Boulter and Heather Watson in action.

As captain, I think this is the first time where I’ve really found it tricky. I really left it as late as I could, but the decision was made because of the match-ups, in terms of what we know about the Mexicans. Quite frankly, any single one of our players could have been out there competing tomorrow. Anne Keothavong, GB Team Captain

The 16 nations are competing for a place in the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup by BNP Paribas Qualifiers, resulting in the 8 winning teams this weekend will be just one more victory away from a place at the Finals next year.

Boulter, the World No 291, will begin the tie against No 285 Marcela Zacarias from 2pm BST, before No 68 Watson faces No 345 Giuliana Olmos in the second singles

After suffering a stress fracture in her back on her last appearance in the competition in April 2019, Boulter was sidelined for much of the rest of that year but is now making a good comeback.

“I think I’m in a better place than I have been for a very long time,” Boulter said in Thursday’s Zoom press conference. “Even when I was at my career-high [No. 82], I feel like I’m playing better tennis now than I was back then – more consistently as well.”

British Captain Anne Keothavong fields a squad that includes Harriet Dart, Jodie Burrage and Katie Swan all vying for the second singles spot, but is without British No 1 Johanna Konta, who opted out because of the hard court surface as she prepares for the court season.

“As captain, I think this is the first time where I’ve really found it tricky,” Keothavong admitted. “I really left it as late as I could, but the decision was made because of the match-ups, in terms of what we know about the Mexicans.

“Quite frankly, any single one of our players could have been out there competing tomorrow.”

Boulter will want to extend her 7-1 overall win-loss record in the competition, but faces stiff competition from an intensely motivated opponent in Zacarias, who has won 14 of the 16 singles matches she has played for her country.

“I am very excited to play for Mexico,” Zacarias said. “I really want to compete.

“Any of the opponents would have been tough. They are very experienced, but we are eager, relaxed and motivated.

“They have the advantage of the indoor hard court, but we have been preparing well in these four days already.

“And we are Mexicans. We always go for everything. We are warriors, and we have nothing to lose.”

Heather Watson follows the opening encounter in her 42nd match in the BJK Cup, which was formerly known as Fed Cup, in a first meeting with Olmos.

Watson has the advantage of a 366-point ranking gap, the greater experience in the competition with 29 match-wins in the 32 ties she has played for Great Britain.

“I’ve always really enjoyed playing [Billie Jean King Cup],” she said. “It’s always been a priority for me to represent my country.

“I do enjoy the team environment. I feel like it brings out the best in me.”

Heather Watson of Great Britain (L) and Giuliana Olmos of Mexico (R) during the BJK Cup draw

© Naomi Baker/Getty Images for LTA

While optimism is high in the British camp, Mexico’s captain Augustin Moreno believes his team are highly charged too, and capable of troubling the home side in a tie that could have been so different.

They are, however, playing without their injured No 1 Renata Zarazua, and on Mexican soil, as originally intended.

“The venue [and surface] would have been different in Mexico, but we’re excited,” he said. “We like the tradition of England, we’re excited to play here and it’s something new for our team.“

With 16 teams competing over 16-17 April, the host nations’ No 1 players play against the away nations’ No 2 players and vice versa.

On Saturday, the reverse singles matches will take place, followed by the doubles match. Nominations for Saturday’s matches are subject to change.

All of the action can be followed via the English and Spanish versions of with live scoring available on the Billie Jean King Cup Live Centre and the Billie Jean King Cup app, which is available on both iOS and Android.

Live streaming of the Play-offs will be available via the Billie Jean King Cup Video Platform.

Jelena Ostapenko leads Latvia against India at home, but Simona Halep has withdrawn from Romania's home tie against Italy

© ITF/Nir Keidar

Billie Jean King Cup By BNP Paribas Play-Offs

Poland v Brazil

  • Venue: Hala Na Skarpie, Bytom, Poland
  • Surface: hard, indoors
  • Head-to-head: Brazil leads 1-0
  • Magdalena Frech (POL) v Carolina Meligeni Rodrigues Alves (BRA)
  • Urszula Radwanska (POL) v Laura Pigossi (BRA)
  • Magdalena Frech (POL) v Laura Pigossi (BRA)
  • Urszula Radwanska (POL) v Carolina Meligeni Rodrigues Alves (BRA)
  • Weronika Falkowska/Paula Kania-Chodun (POL) v Gabriela Ce/Luisa Stefani (BRA)

Great Britain v Mexico

  • Venue: National Tennis Centre, London, Great Britain
  • Surface: hard, indoors
  • Head-to-head: Great Britain leads 1-0
  • Katie Boulter (GBR) v Marcela Zacarias (MEX)
  • Heather Watson (GBR) v Giuliana Olmos (MEX)
  • Heather Watson (GBR) v Marcela Zacarias (MEX)
  • Katie Boulter (GBR) v Giuliana Olmos (MEX)
  • Harriet Dart/Heather Watson (GBR) v Fernanda Contreras Gomez/Giuliana Olmos (MEX)

Serbia v Canada

  • Venue: Sport Hall Ibar, Kraljevo, Serbia
  • Surface: hard, indoors
  • Head-to-head: Serbia leads 2-1
  • Olga Danilovic (SRB) v Leylah Annie Fernandez (CAN)
  • Nina Stojanovic (SRB) v Rebecca Marino (CAN)
  • Nina Stojanovic (SRB) v Leylah Annie Fernandez (CAN)
  • Olga Danilovic (SRB) v Rebecca Marino (CAN)
  • Olga Danilovic/Aleksandra Krunic (SRB) v Sharon Fichman/Carol Zhao (CAN)

Latvia v India

  • Venue: National Tennis Centre Lielupe, Jurmala, Latvia
  • Surface: hard, indoors
  • Head-to-head: first meeting
  • Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) v Ankita Raina (IND)
  • Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) v Karman Kaur Thandi (IND)
  • Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) v Ankita Raina (IND)
  • Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) v Karman Kaur Thandi (IND)
  • Diana Marcinkevica/Daniela Vismane (LAT) v Sania Mirza/Ankita Raina (IND)

Ukraine v Japan

  • Venue: Elite Tennis Club, Chornomorsk, Ukraine
  • Surface: clay, outdoors
  • Head-to-head: first meeting
  • Elina Svitolina (UKR) v Chihiro Muramatsu (JPN)
  • Marta Kostyuk (UKR) v Yuki Naito (JPN)
  • Elina Svitolina (UKR) v Yuki Naito (JPN)
  • Marta Kostyuk (UKR) v Chihiro Muramatsu (JPN)
  • Lyudmyla Kichenok/Nadiia Kichenok (UKR) v Shiho Akita/Himari Sato (JPN)

Romania v Italy

  • Venue: Sala Polivalenta, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
  • Surface: hard, indoors
  • Head-to-head: Italy leads 2-1
  • Irina Maria Bara (ROU) v Elisabetta Cocciaretto (ITA)
  • Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) v Martina Trevisan (ITA)
  • Irina Maria Bara (ROU) v Martina Trevisan (ITA)
  • Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) v Elisabetta Cocciaretto (ITA)
  • Monica Niculescu/Elena Gabriela Ruse (ROU) v Giulia Gatto-Monticone/Jasmine Paolini (ITA)

Argentina v Kazakhstan

  • Venue: Cordoba Lawn Tennis Club, Cordoba, Argentina
  • Surface: clay, outdoors
  • Head-to-head: first meeting
  • Nadia Podoroska (ARG) v Yulia Putintseva (KAZ)
  • Maria Lourdes Carle (ARG) v Elena Rybakina (KAZ)
  • Nadia Podoroska (ARG) v Elena Rybakina (KAZ)
  • Maria Lourdes Carle (ARG) v Yulia Putintseva (KAZ)
  • Maria Lourdes Carle/Nadia Podoroska (ARG) v Anna Danilina/Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ)

Netherlands v China, P.R.

  • Venue: Maaspoort Sports & Events, s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands
  • Surface: clay, indoors
  • Head-to-head: China, P.R. leads 1-0
  • Kiki Bertens (NED) v Wang Xinyu (CHN)
  • Arantxa Rus (NED) v Wang Xiyu (CHN)
  • Kiki Bertens (NED) v Wang Xiyu (CHN)
  • Arantxa Rus (NED) v Wang Xinyu (CHN)
  • Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove/Demi Schuurs (NED) v Zhang Shuai/Zheng Saisai (CHN)



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