Anne Keothavong will go with the same squad against Kazakhstan in the crucial World Group II play-off in London April 20th-21st. Johanna Konta and Katie Boulter are likely to spearhead the attack à la Bath in February 2019.
Great Britain on a mission to qualify for Federation Cup World Group for the first time since 1993
Ahead of Bath, all the talk centred around who would be selected to be Konta’s singles counterpart: Katie Boulter or Heather Watson. Boulter got the nod, although whether Watson was fit enough to be selected is still a moot point. This time there is not the same conjecture – given her performance for Britain in Fed Cup action in Bath, Boulter should get the nod again.
However, it’s easy to forgive the British captain for any niggling doubts given Heather Watson’s Fed Cup Record (28-10 win-loss). Watson’s experience may be key in the doubles.
Great Britain and Kazakhstan are closely matched
The anticipated lead pairing of Jo Konta (World #46) and Katie Boulter (World #86) outrank their expected opponents Yulia Putinseva (World #38) and Zarina Diyas (World #107) by 13 combined places. Putinseva holds victories over both Johanna Konta and Heather Watson in early rounds of a Slam. The likable 24-year-old Russian-born Florida resident will focus on this Fed Cup tie:
“I’m going to practice, I’m going to work on tactics, I’m going to do everything possible to try and bring some points to my team. We are all together, the Kazakhstan team is one big strand and we’re very friendly with each other.”
This will not be easy for Britain, they will need the full support of an excitable Copper Box Arena, London crowd. Putinseva and Jo Konta are currently 1-1 in previous meetings, both on red clay.
Zarina Diyas and Katie Boulter look set to meet for the first time in the careers. This has the makings of a close, hard-fought contest. Diyas is 1-1 against Heather Watson, with the Kazakhstani holding a victory on hard-court. Zarina Diyas has won an ITF tournament in England, so she will be looking forward to the experience.
Doubles rubber could be key
In Britain’s last World Group elimination play-off against Japan 2018, the doubles rubber was costly. Certainly, this match could go down to the doubles wire. In terms of pressure and intensity; it’s possible to liken this possibility to a penalty shoot-out in football.
In Bath in February, Harriet Dart and Bristol’s Katie Swan won the only doubles match. However, as soon as the doubles looked as though it might be meaningful in terms of match outcome against Greece, Katie Boulter started preparing to play. Heather Watson is arguably the best doubles player for Britain.
Kazakhstan are no slouches in the doubles sphere
24-year-old Russian-born Galina Voskoboeva is likely to play doubles for Kazakhstan. She recently partnered the Russian Veronika Kudermetova for a WTA doubles final at the Samsung open. Crucially, Voskoboeva and Anna Danilina gained victory in the key doubles leg of their Asia/Oceania promotion play-off against China in February. Therefore, Kazakhstan possess experience in the pressure of producing in a recent meaningful doubles rubber. Understandably, Britain needs to be fully prepare for the match to go the five-rubber distance.