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Line call controversy clouds Great Britain’s Fed Cup win over Greece

The Guardian logo The Guardian 08/02/2019 Press Association
a woman wearing a black dress: Johanna Konta points the finger on a controversial day’s action in the Fed Cup. © Getty Images for LTA Johanna Konta points the finger on a controversial day’s action in the Fed Cup.

Great Britain set up a winner-takes-all Fed Cup clash with Hungary on Friday, but their victory against Greece was dogged by controversial line calls.

Britain made it two from two to sit top of Pool A of the Europe/Africa Zone Group 1 going into the final round-robin tie after Katie Boulter and Johanna Konta won their singles matches. But there were questionable line calls throughout and Konta’s opponent Maria Sakkari condemned the line judges as “the worst I have ever seen in my life”.

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Boulter’s opponent Valentini Grammatikopoulou also suggested the home judges were not playing fair as the matter cast a shadow over what was a thrilling tie.

Boulter delivered another opening win as she battled hard to triumph 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 before Konta made sure the tie was in the bag after coming from a set down to beat Sakkari 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. Both sides were on the end of calls that looked wrong, but with no Hawkeye in operation the players had no choice but to accept the decision.

Afterwards Sakkari did not hold back in her assessment of the officiating. “They are terrible,” she said. “Since the first round. They’re the worst I’ve ever seen in my life.

“The chair umpires are great, but the line umpires are the worst I have ever seen in my life. There were mistakes for both sides, I am not saying that they always do mistakes only for us, but of course there are more mistakes for our side.

“I think it’s very tough for all the players to play with very bad line umpires on court. We are used to playing with very good professionals and we come here, it’s a very high level Fed Cup tie, we need to have good professionals on our court.”

Grammatikopoulou added: “It’s nice to play against countries and she deserved to win but let’s play fair. That’s why we play tennis, you know? Not to judge the lines. It’s really tough.”

Britain were more diplomatic in their response, knowing that they still have something to play for with their tie against Hungary. With Hungary beating Slovenia to also make it two from two, whoever wins the best-of-three tie will advance to play the winner of Pool B – either Croatia or Serbia – on Saturday.

The GB captain Anne Keothavong, whose brother James is an ATP Tour umpire, insisted the disputed calls had no impact on the outcome of the matches.

“I have to be diplomatic as I can,” Keothavong said. “The line calling today didn’t affect the outcome of the matches.

“There were tight line calls, the bad line calls went both ways and how many times do you go through a tournament without a player questioning a line call? There is a lot of tension out there and players see what they want to see.”

Just after midnight on Friday morning, Katie Swan and Harriet Dart won their doubles clash 6-1, 6-4 to complete a clean sweep in the tie.

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