London | GB to host Kazakhstan in Fed Cup
Great Britain’s prayers for a home tie in April have been answered, with the No 4 seeds in the Fed Cup World Group II play-offs drawn to face Kazakhstan, Group 1 winners, and if they can win this encounter, they will find themselves in the elite World Group for the first time since 1993.
We do deserve a home tie. The girls deserve it, that's what they want, I don't care who we're up against Anne Keothavong
It is the fifth time in eight years that Britain have reached this stage, but the first time they have been handed a home tie and after last weekend’s successful run at the University of Bath, the team is in with a very real chance of promotion.
The search for a suitable venue over the Easter weekend is already underway, with the favourite being the Copper Box in London’s Olympic Park.
The success of Bath pulling in more than 15,000 spectators, prompted the LTA to go for a bigger venue if they got the chance.
Following the draw for the next stage of what is still a ludicrously complex competition structure, which took place in London on Tuesday, officials are now scurrying to confirm arrangements for the tie, just under nine weeks away.
Great Britain’s Fed Cup Captain Anne Keothavong believes the support of a home crowd is just what her team needs to keep their winning ways going.
In the drama-filled Europe/Africa Zone Group 1 play-off win over Serbia on Sunday, Johanna Konta recovered from a mid match collapse to overcome Aleksandra Krunic to seal a 2-0 win in the best-of-three encounter after Katie Boulter had put the hosts 1-0 up.
Konta and Boulter produced world class performances throughout the entire Bath event, winning all their singles matches.
“I mean surely the odds now…” she said ahead of today’s draw. “It makes a huge difference. Weeks like this no one will forget, and it makes a huge difference.
“We do deserve a home tie. The girls deserve it, that’s what they want, I don’t care who we’re up against”.
“We can field a fit and strong team and play in front of such a supportive crowd, then it makes the week even more special.”
Konta, Britain’s No 1 added: “I think it has got as good a chance as every other team we have had,” she said.
“We have always done well with the team we have produced. To be honest, we haven’t had the opportunity to come through yet.
“This team is prepared and after a battle like this, it can only draw from the experience.
“We will give this another shot and hopefully it will be our time. If not, we will keep going until it is.”
Kazakhstan’s No 1 player is Yulia Putintseva, who is currently ranked 43 in the world, four places behind Konta.
Putintseva has reached the French Open quarter-finals twice in the past three years, although Keothavong is unlikely to choose to play the tie on clay.
Britain’s No 2 Katie Boulter, is ranked 13 places above opposite number Zarina Diyas, while Heather Watson, who was selected but fell in during last week, is also an experienced Fed Cup campaigner.
The doubles pairing of Katie Swan and Harriet Dart performed impressively in Bath too, albeit competing in dead rubbers but coming through with wins.
The Fed Cup World Group II play-offs will take place on 20-21 April.
Meanwhile, Latvia, who had never hosted a home tie before their victory over Slovakia in Riga last weekend, will stage their first ever appearance in the World Group play-offs in a clash against two-time champions Germany.
Czech Republic, champions in six of the last eight years, will hope to bounce back from their defeat to Romania when they compete in the World Group play-offs for the first time since 2008 in a home tie against Canada.
It is a tough draw for the Canadians, who, despite having won seven of their last eight Fed Cup ties and are looking for a return to the World Group for the first time since 2015, have lost all six of their previous meetings with the Czechs.
USA, who missed the chance to fight for a third straight appearance in the Fed Cup Final following their loss to Australia in Asheville, will host Switzerland in the World Group play-offs in their second straight tie on home soil.
The Americans have won all eight of their previous meetings with Switzerland in their thoroughly lop-sided head-to-head.
Belgium and Spain will face off on Belgian soil in the other World Group play-off – an eighth contest between the two nations but their first since 2004.
As well as Great Britain; Russia, Japan and Slovakia will all host World Group II play-offs.
The Russians will welcome Italy, Japan will host Netherlands and Slovakia will host Brazil, with the latter progressing to this stage of the competition for the first time since 2014 after winning the Americas Zone Group I event in Medellin.
The full draws are shown below:
Czech Republic (1) (c) v Canada
USA (2) (*) v Switzerland
Latvia (*) v Germany (3)
Belgium (4) (c) v Spain
World Group II
Russia (1) (c) v Italy
Japan (c) v Netherlands (2)
Great Britain (3) (*) v Kazakhstan
Slovakia (4) (*) v Brazil
[c] = choice of ground
[*] = choice of ground decided by lot