Great Britain vs Mexico - the tale of the tie
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Great Britain sealed their place in the Billie Jean King Cup Finals qualifier this weekend with a 3-1 over Mexico at the National Tennis Centre.
From Heather Watson’s first-day gliding winners, to the ferocious hitting from Katie Boulter on day two – we round-up the moments that defined a fantastic win for the British side.
Boulter seals a tight opening set with a break against Zacarias
There were plenty of fireworks in the tie’s first match between Boulter and Marcela Zacarias. Momentum shifted from end to end, with four breaks of serve in the opening eight games. Both players were battling hard to take charge of the match and with the score tightly poised at 5-5; Boulter landed a crucial hold to force the Mexican to serve to stay in it.
Growing in confidence, the Brit started to work through the gears. A fortunate net cord to begin the twelfth game was followed up by three unanswered points from Boulter, who showed sheer power and class to take the first set.
This pivotal moment set the wheels in motion for what would turn into a straight sets win for Boulter – winning the final eight games in a row.
Watson’s vital first set break against Olmos
Watson raced off to a flying start in her match against doubles specialist, Giuliana Olmos. But despite an early break, Olmos struck back immediately and out of nowhere Watson found herself in a fight.
Watson’s aggressive style was getting the best of her opponent but the Mexican did just enough to stay in the set and get to 5-5. A big hold from Watson and up steps Olmos to try and force the tie-break – but the British No.2 had other ideas.
The loud cheers from the Mexican side-line were silenced as Watson put on a masterclass in mental toughness to clinch the all-important break. The Brit’s powerful groundstrokes had been a clear advantage throughout the match and with the game at deuce, she stepped up once again. She sealed a one set lead with a driving crosscourt winner, which would become a defining moment in the contest.
World-class winners from Watson on route to victory
After capturing the first set at the death, Watson found new confidence and demonstrated exactly why she’s second in all-time match wins for Great Britain in the Billie Jean King Cup.
The Brit came close to breaking in the second game of the set, but wasn’t going to let her opportunities lie the next time of asking.
Serving at 2-1 down, Olmos played a sneaky drop shot in an attempt to catch Watson off guard. But she read it like a book and quick as a flash she was up and showed unbelievable touch to guide the sliced forehand for a crosscourt winner.
The shot was met by a huge roar from the British bench and it felt like the moment Watson won the match psychologically.
Zacarias spoils the party for British whitewash win
Moving into day two and Great Britain knew they only needed one victory to secure their place in next year’s finals qualifiers. First match – Watson vs Zacarias.
Any ideas of an easy British win were soon squashed as Zacarias raced to a one set lead and had Watson on the ropes. The Brit looked slightly nervy and saw a number of errors creep into her game, but a second set break gave her the opportunity to serve out the set at 5-4.
In the biggest moment of the match, the Mexican continued the high level of consistency she had shown throughout, asking questions of Watson time and time again, forcing her to play the extra ball. It proved frustrating for Watson who couldn’t find the breakthrough despite everything she threw at her opponent.
A couple of forced errors from the Brit and the match was back on level terms – a decisive game for Zacarias who would go on to clinch the second set tie-break 7-1.
Boulter reaches top gear in defining match
Both players came out strong in the fourth singles match, with heavy hitting from the off from Boulter and Olmos.
Renowned for having one of the best forehands in the game, Boulter was really letting rip on every groundstroke, forcing Olmos to have to dig deep, just to stay in contention. After clinching the first break, the Brit suffered a minor blip with the Mexican coming back immediately to level the score.
It would have been easy for Boulter to panic, but in the defining moment of the match, she took her game to another level. She dispatched winner after winner on Olmos’ serve and went on to take the game and the first set.
From there she never looked back and cruised to a 6-4, 6-1 win.