Great Britain secure Fed Cup promotion after 26-year wait

Anne Keothavong hailed a heroic effort by Johanna Konta and Katie Boulter as Great Britain ended a 26-year wait for Fed Cup promotion with a 3-1 victory over Kazakhstan.

British number one Konta won her 11th successive singles match in the competition with a 4-6 6-2 7-5 triumph over Yulia Putintseva to put the hosts within touching distance of promotion.

Boulter then bounced back from her heartbreaking defeat to Putintseva on day one to seal victory in the World Group II play-off with her own comeback win against Zarina Diyas.

The 22-year-old British number two trailed by a set and a break before eventually winning 6-7 (1-7) 6-4 6-1 to spark jubilant celebrations from the home support at London’s Copper Box Arena.

And following the long-awaited promotion, Great Britain captain Keothavong said: “It was just a heroic effort from the players this week, they played some fantastic tennis.

“Everyone here has been part of our journey and this has been an unforgettable weekend. From Jo's effort, coming back from behind, to Katie today. I think they have inspired a lot of people.”

Konta, who had already come from a set behind to beat Diyas on Saturday, found herself up against it once again after she lost the opening set to world number 38 Putintseva 6-4.

But she stormed back to take the second set before overturning a 4-1 deficit in the decider to come out on top, winning 16 of the last 19 points against the player ranked eight places above her.

Konta said: “As a young athlete trying to make it in your sport, you can only dream of this sort of thing. It is a dream come true. It was a hell of a match.

“I try to look at it in as cool a head as possible. Sometimes you have to accept you opponent will do difficult things which mean you loses points and games.

“But I tried to look at the good things I was doing. One point at a time, I trusted I would get an opportunity.”

Buoyed Konta’s dramatic victory, Boulter raced into a 2-0 lead in the opening set of her second singles rubber before Diyas fought back to prevail 7-1 in the tie-break.

The Kazakh had the advantage in the second set as well before Boulter broke her twice to win it 6-4 and send the match to a decider, which she claimed 6-1 to secure Britain’s promotion.

And having failed to convert three match points against Putintseva a day earlier, Boulter was delighted to be able to finally get GB over the line in their fifth play-off in eight years.

“I was trying to get one win for the team, Johanna did a great job,” she said.

“I was just trying to make them proud. I showed yesterday how much it meant, I was so close but I bounced back and got the win.”