Billie Jean King Cup qualifying: Emma Raducanu and Katie Boulter earn GB win over France

Home » Billie Jean King Cup qualifying: Emma Raducanu and Katie Boulter earn GB win over France

Emma Raducanu withstood a late surge from France’s Diane Parry to secure Great Britain’s place in the Billie Jean King Cup Finals.

Raducanu came from a set down to hold a 5-2 lead in the third set and had two match points on serve before being pegged back by an inspired Parry.

But Raducanu kept her nerve to win 4-6 6-1 7-6 (7-1) and give Britain an unassailable 3-1 lead in Le Portel.

Katie Boulter earlier beat Clara Burel 7-5 6-0 to put GB ahead.

This was a superb victory for Britain, who were facing a tough task away against a French team that mixed clay-court experience with youthful exuberance.

However, Raducanu led the way for Britain, staging comebacks in both her singles ties to beat French number one Caroline Garcia on Friday and then Parry.

Saturday’s win for Raducanu followed a superbly gritty performance from Boulter, who put aside a chastening loss to Parry to return and beat Burel in convincing fashion.

An emotional Raducanu teared up at the end, sharing a warm hug with Parry before the British team celebrated together.

“Being a set down, I was backed up against a wall and I didn’t want to go to the doubles because they’re a very strong doubles team,” Raducanu said.

“Boults helped us go 2-1 up and [we had] the support on the bench to help us go out again.

“It’s a massive shout-out – it is not just me out there.”

Two wins in two days for Raducanu

Neither Raducanu nor Boulter can point to huge experience on clay courts, particularly when compared with the French players who learn their craft on the red dirt.

However, both players, marshalled well by captain Anne Keothavong, showed the savvy and big-hitting needed to turn this tie around.

As she did against Garcia, Raducanu grew into the contest. She was broken early by Parry, fought back to parity and then faltered as she served to stay in the set.

The turning point came after the Briton went an early break up in the second. She withstood a long game of five deuces, saving one break point and keeping Parry and the vocal crowd at bay.

Raducanu’s forehand cranked up a notch and she took the ball early, stepping in to blast away return winners and set up a deciding set and, at 5-3 in the third, she strode out to serve for the match.

The first match point was brilliantly saved by a passing Parry winner, and the second missed on a Raducanu forehand, before a long backhand from the Briton swung the momentum back towards Parry.

Raducanu did well to stave off two break points at 5-5 and again to regroup for the tie-break, producing some of her best serves to secure victory.

As well as the satisfaction of her wins, Raducanu has also managed to stay fit and competitive for two matches in two days – a positive in a career that has been hit by injuries.

Boulter ups aggression to win

British number one Boulter spoke about needing to be more aggressive on the unfamiliar clay courts after her defeat by Parry.

She used her forehand to great effect against Burel on Saturday, but perhaps more impressive was the mental strength she showed to come through the tight moments.

She won a near 20-minute game at 3-3 in the first set, saving five break points and surviving nine deuces in front of a raucous French crowd.

Although she was broken to love in her next service game, it did not feel as desperate as it did against Parry – and the Englishwoman proved it, breaking a tentative Burel as she served for the set.

Boulter’s net play also improved as the match progressed. She brought up two points for the first set with an extraordinary reactive lob before closing it out with her trademark forehand.

She kept the intensity up too, breaking Burel at the first opportunity in the second set with a deft drop shot, and Boulter kept both her rhythm and her radar in check to sweep to victory.

Analysis

Raducanu showed great skill, stamina and nerve to come back from a set down for the second day in a row to secure Great Britain’s unlikely triumph.

The absence of the French number one Garcia will have given the team a boost at the start of the day. But Boulter, a clay-court novice at the elite level, knew she had to be very good to beat a top 50 player in Burel – and she was.

Raducanu was outstanding in establishing a 5-2 third set lead, but the momentum was back with Parry by the start of the tie-break, until the 21-year-old swiftly took the match out of France’s hands with some clinical serves and forehands.

Winning away on clay against a French team boasting three top 50 players is some achievement for Keothavong and her team.

Great Britain featured in the Glasgow finals of 2022, but only as hosts. They will head to Seville in November having fully earned a crack at the title.

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