Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers 2023: Three things we learnt on day one in Coventry
• 3 MINUTE READ
And... relax! What an incredible first day of action between Great Britain and France at the Coventry Building Society Arena in Coventry.
With France currently leading 2-0 and a place in the Billie Jean King Cup Finals still on the line for both nations, we look back at three of the biggest takeways from day one.
Boulter can go toe-to-toe with best in the game
While the result will have been disappointing for Katie Boulter – narrowly losing out to world No.5 Caroline Garcia 6-7(2), 7-6(4), 7-6(2) – it was clear to see that the 26-year-old British star has what it takes to compete the best players on the WTA Tour.
Up against a player ranked 149 places above her, more often than not it was Boulter who set the tone. Playing on a fast indoor court that suited her aggressive baseline style of play, Boulter’s striking off both wings caused the WTA Finals champion all sorts of problems and jammed her deep behind the baseline.
While Garcia eventually came out on top in the deciding moments of the match, it’s fair to say that Boulter also shone in the pressure points, saving 12 of 15 break points faced – including nine in the third set – and converting three of her own.
Coming into the rubber she had won her last two meetings with players inside the top 10 and was denied her hat-trick by the very finest of margins. If she is to play a second singles rubber tomorrow, Boulter can be hugely encouraged by her performance today and if she’s able to bring that level again, could well be looking at a very different result.
Garcia stays calm and shows conviction in the big moments
In a match that had almost everything, enduring it's fair share of ups and downs, it was France’s Garcia who eventually clinched a three hour and 29 minute epic against Boulter in the first match of the day in Coventry.
It was by no means an easy win for the world No.5 and WTA Finals champion, having to come back from a set down, having served twice to stay in the match and recovering from a 4-2 deficit in the decider.
Garcia often had to dig deep and showed great composure in the biggest points. Her serve proved a weapon in the decisive moments, hitting a total of 16 aces, including a few on huge points in the second and third set tie-breaks.
Not only that, but she found her best returns when she needed them most – notably at 4-3 down in the third with Boulter serving for a two game lead. With her opponent charged up and with the fans fully behind the Brit, it would have been easy for Garcia to let the match slip but instead, she produced her best return game of the match, breaking to love to propel herself back in contention.
It's an old fallacy that tennis is a game of fine margins, but never has the saying been truer than the closing stages of this opening rubber. Despite losing out on her first two match points, the quality and experience of Garcia in the defining moments gave her the result for France.
Fine margins leave everything to play for on day two
Although Great Britain find themselves 2-0 down after day one, five consecutive tie-breaks shows that there is very little to split the teams and it will be all to play for on Saturday.
Harriet Dart’s performance against Alize Cornet showcased her relentless tenacity – with the 26-year-old Brit claiming a break lead three times in the opening set and then raising her service game to another level in the second.
The British No.3 arguably won some of the best points in the tie in the closing stages of both sets – battling through a series of long rallies before unleashing winners from both sides – and should feel confident in her ability to recreate her heroics from Glasgow back in November.
While there have only been seven comebacks from 2-0 down since the tournament used a best-of-five set format in 1995, the fact that these ties could have gone either way should give the Brits plenty to be optimistic about.