Billie Jean King Cup Finals 2022: Great Britain vs Kazakhstan - Three things we learnt
• 3 MINUTE READ
As the dust settles on Great Britain's 2-1 defeat to Kazakhstan in the opening match of Group C at the Billie Jean King Cup Finals, here are our three biggest learnings from an action-packed tie.
1. Early aggression proves a big positive for Boulter despite result
The Brit got off to an emphatic start, throwing the Kazakhstani off balance with an early break lead and preventing her from generating any kind of momentum.
The key to her success in the opener was the aggression on the return and the consistency of her groundstrokes. A slow start from Putintseva on serve gave Boulter the opportunity to take the return early and dictate the points. In fact, the 26-year-old took on the second serve on average a foot inside the baseline and the results paid off – Putintseva winning just four out of 13 points on her second serve (31%).
Boulter continued this approach throughout the match, but consistency proved to the costly factor. As Putintseva found her rhythm and started to drag out points into longer rallies, the error count ultimately proved the difference, with the Brit making 33 unforced errors in the final two sets to her opponent’s 17.
The shining light for Boulter – who has had strong results this season at the Rothesay Classic Birmingham and Wimbledon – will be that if she can find more ways to marry her aggressive style with a level of consistency as she did in the opening set, she will prove a serious threat to any player in the competition.
2. Rybakina could be the one to watch in Glasgow
It seems strange to call out the reigning Wimbledon champion as one to watch at any event, but Elena Rybakina’s arrival in Glasgow has gone slightly under the radar, but not for much longer as she clinched an impressive opening win against Harriet Dart.
There is one big advantage that Rybakina has over the top competitors at this year’s Finals – freshness.
Many of the big stars in Glasgow – such as Coco Gauff and Barbora Krejcikova – have been battling hard at a competitive WTA Tour Finals last week, with some only arriving in Scotland on Tuesday. Rybakina on the other hand, missed out on the Finals with no ranking points being given at Wimbledon this year, so she comes in well rested and having built some strong form in previous weeks.
The Kazakhstan No.1 made a statement in her first match, with her signature big serve and hammer of a forehand on show for everyone to see - hitting 21 winners on her way to victory.
While Dart can take some positives from the match herself – particularly after an impressive break to love in the second set to get back on serve and take the lead – the rest of the competition will certainly be sitting up and taking notice of Rybakina in full flight.
3. Consistency provides the defining edge in doubles
On paper, the doubles partnership of a Wimbledon champion in Rybakina and doubles world No.11 Anna Danilina would appear a stiff challenge for any Billie Jean King Cup clash, but the experience of Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls gave them the decisive edge in the final rubber.
Barnett and Nicholls have had a breakthrough season together as a team, rising into the top 65 and winning their first WTA title, and know each other’s games inside and out.
Despite falling behind an early break at the start of the match, their experience was clear to see in the biggest and most important points of the match. The team saved all five of the break points they faced after going 4-3 down and won three service games on deciding point deuces. It’s in those moments where you want to have full trust in your partner and where that continuity of knowing how each other play can prove the difference – and it did.
Needless to say, it was a dream debut for the partnership and to beat such strong opponents will fill them with huge confidence for the 2022 WTA season.
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The Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge Finals, the women’s world cup of tennis, take place at the Emirates Arena, Glasgow, from 8-13 November. Tickets, starting from £5 for children and £10 for adults, can be purchased below...