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Billie Jean King Cup Qualifer: Emma Raducanu wins crucial rubber to help Great Britain draw level with France

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Billie Jean King Cup Qualifer: Emma Raducanu wins crucial rubber to help Great Britain draw level with France

Emma Raducanu trailed Caroline Garcia by a set and a break before completing a stunning comeback to draw Great Britain level with France in their Billie Jean King Cup qualifying tie on Friday.

Britain were staring at a 2-0 deficit and almost certain defeat when Raducanu trailed in-form world No 23 Garcia by a set and 2-0 after Katie Boulter had been thumped 6-2 6-0 by Diane Parry.

But Raducanu, back in the team for the first time in two years after injury, showed once again what makes her a hugely special talent by fighting back to claim a 3-6 6-3 6-2 victory for her first top-30 win on clay in Le Portel to record her best win of the year and her best win on clay.

Speaking on the BBC, the former US Open champion said: “I was completely the underdog, especially going out here in her house, on clay. I definitely turned it around. I fought really hard, I dug in.

“That was a really good test for myself because I hadn’t had those level matches very often. I’m very pleased with my performance and I’m very, very happy to bring this point home for the team and go into tomorrow 1-1.”

The 21-year-old is inexperienced on clay but said again ahead of the tie that she feels it could be a good surface for her, and this was her best victory for more than a year.

The power of Garcia, who recently defeated Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka at the Miami Open, helped her edge a high-quality opening set, and the 30-year-old looked in control when she broke serve again to start the second.

But Raducanu, who beat Garcia in Indian Wells in 2022 before losing to her at Wimbledon, met fire with fire, dialling up the aggression on her forehand in particular and turned the momentum around with a run of five games in a row.

She had to show her gritty side when Garcia threatened a comeback of her own but the Frenchwoman appeared on the verge of tears during the deciding set as Raducanu kept her foot on the gas.

The Kent player, ranked 302, saw the funny side after she celebrated a game short of victory at 5-1, but she kept her head impressively and looked delighted when a final volley earned her the spoils.

“It was quite embarrassing,” said Raducanu of her mistake. “All I was thinking was, ‘If I lose this right now, I’m going to look like a right muppet’. I’m very happy that I managed to pull it through.”

Katie Boulter of Great Britain looks on against Diane Parry of France during the Billie Jean King Cup Qualifier match between France and Great Britain at Le Chaudron on April 12, 2024 in Le Portel, France. (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images for ITF)
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Katie Boulter lost 12 games in a row against the impressive Diane Parry

Earlier, Boulter’s inexperience on clay showed as she lost 12 games in a row against fast-rising 21-year-old Parry.

Boulter has had an exceptional season so far but this was only the 17th match of her career on clay and her first at tour level.

The British No 1, ranked 28, told reporters: “I have to get better on the clay. It’s such a learning experience and it’s a really good learning experience for me.

“I know my base level is there and that I can play some really good stuff. Practice has been awesome. The scoreline was tough but I felt it was a lot closer than it seemed.”

Both captains must decide whether to make changes for Saturday, with Boulter scheduled to take on Garcia first up before Raducanu faces Parry.

Three wins are needed to clinch a place in November’s Billie Jean King Cup Finals in Seville, and France would be strong favourites if it came down to a deciding doubles.

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