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Anne Keothavong hopes Fed Cup success leads to bright summer for Britain’s women

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Anne Keothavong hopes Great Britain’s Fed Cup success can be the springboard for a good summer ahead for the country’s leading women.

A 3-1 victory over Kazakhstan at London’s Copper Box earned Britain promotion to the World Group of the competition for the first time since 1993.

After a succession of away ties, Keothavong’s side were finally able to enjoy some of the noisy home support afforded to the Davis Cup team in their climb up the ladder and they thrived in the environment.

Johanna Konta claimed comeback victories over Zarina Diyas and Yulia Putintseva, while Katie Boulter secured the winning point against Diyas having come agonisingly close to beating 38th-ranked Putintseva on Saturday.

Captain Keothavong said: “Jo always performs when it comes to Fed Cup and, with the weight of expectation and pressure, she always finds a way. How she does it, I’m in awe of her. And Katie as well.

“This should be used as a springboard for bigger and better things for all the players. For British women’s tennis it’s great that we have the strength in depth and I think they need to use it in a positive way.”

Players like Dan Evans, James Ward, Kyle Edmund and even Andy Murray have all seen a boost in their individual careers from Davis Cup success, and the challenge for Konta and Boulter, in particular, will be to show the sort of form they produced this weekend more consistently.

Boulter only broke into the top 100 at the end of last season having won her first match as a wild card at Wimbledon last summer, and showed with a fine debut win over Ekaterina Makarova at the Australian Open in January that she is a player who offers a lot.

Tall and rangy, she possesses a competitive grit that should carry her much higher than her current ranking of 86.

She won all four singles matches for Britain in Fed Cup in February but has not made much of a mark on the tour since, with a couple of bouts of illness not helping.

The clay season is likely to be challenging but she will earn a spot at Wimbledon by virtue of her ranking and should be a dangerous opponent on grass.

Konta has looked steadier this season after the difficulties of 2018 but her ranking is still languishing in the low 40s, way below her career high of four, and she has struggled to string wins together.

The 27-year-old should be applauded for trying to add variety to her game by throwing in drop shots and coming to the net, but she does not have naturally soft hands and too often on court her tactics appear panicked.

What cannot be disputed is Konta’s impressive record in Fed Cup, with Sunday’s victory over Putintseva her 11th in a row in singles.

World number one Naomi Osaka was among her scalps in that run and the victory over Putintseva was the latest contest she has won from behind, something she has struggled to do on the regular tour.

“I think it’s a bit of a coincidence but also I am really doing well in embracing this environment and using it for what it is and what it brings to a competition,” said Konta.

Heather Watson did not play a match this weekend but will hope to take the winning feeling on the road as she bids to end a miserable run of seven defeats in a row.

Behind that trio, Keothavong has promising options for the future in 22-year-old Harriet Dart and 20-year-old Katie Swan, who were both part of the team, as well as teenagers Jodie Burrage and Emma Raducanu looking further ahead.

Topics:
Wimbledon
Fed Cup
Women's Sport
Tennis

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