By Ros Satar at the Copper Box Arena, London

  • Johanna Konta def. Zarina Diyas 4-6 6-3 6-2
  • GB take a 1-0 lead in the Fed Cup World Griup II play-off
LONDON, ENGLAND – In another tough battle, Johanna Konta gave GB a lead in the Fed Cup World Group II play-off with a three-set win over Zarina Diyas.

 

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Johanna Konta def. Zarina Diyas 4-6 6-3 6-2

If the name of the game is setting yourself a challenge, then Johanna Konta must have felt it was achievement unlocked as the raucous atmosphere of a full-on Kazakhstan brass section with quite the repertoire heralded a spirited start by the visitors.

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Broken in the first game, Konta looked to be on the back foot throughout as Zarina Diyas quietly showed why she has been as high as No. 31 in the world, and definitely was punching well above her weight on this occasion. With two breaks of the Brit’s serve, it looked like it was going to be a long afternoon.

Even on the couple of occasions that Konta looked to change things up on the court, coming in and trying to flourish at the net (not exactly a renowned hunting ground for her) Diyas burned her with hitting into an open court for a winner after they peppered each other with volleys.

In forcing Diyas to serve it out, the British crowd really started to come alive, their intensity increasing as Diyas wavered serving out for the set, double-faulting to put Konta back in contention, claiming one of the breaks back, and holding to give the hosts a fighting chance of putting a little more pressure on Kazakhstan.

Second time around to give the visitor the lead as Konta closed in for a volley winner, a yelp from the crowd certainly didn’t help as she instead dropped it inside the net, as the fightback came to nothing.

Justifiably fired up, Konta came out of the blocks like a rocket in the second set ripping through Diyas’ service games swiftly to build up a commanding 5-0 lead. With Diyas raising her game a little more, she broke as Konta served for the set the first time, and certainly made the brit work for it, deflecting four set points for force Konta to serve for it, and another one, before the Brit sealed the set on her sixth try.

Despite having to fend off two break points at the start of the decider, the break was Konta’s for an early 4-1 lead, and with Diyas looking increasingly more tired and dealing with a shoulder injury but rallied enough to get one of the breaks back, only to surrender it straight away, leaving Konta to serve it out getting over the line on her first match point.

 

The Challenges of Fed Cup

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While some players thrive on the organised chaos that can be Fed Cup ties, Konta admitted it can be a challenge to put yourself in that scenario after playing the more ordered tournament events.

“Obviously tennis is quite a traditional sport in the way that spectators are and the general conditions in which you play, and Fed Cup is different to that. While it makes it very exciting and very, at the end of the day, enjoyable it’s also just a different situation to find yourself in and to adapt to, so in that sense you just need to find your feet as soon as you can and adapt to the surroundings, which you expect going into it because every Fed Cup tie we’ve played, it’s been a similar situation.”

Konta will face Yulia Putintseva in the third rubber, which starts 12pm BST, with the play-off tied at 1-1.

 

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