Katie Boulter hopes Great Britain can bring some ‘Emma Raducanu magic’ to this week’s Billie Jean King Cup final despite the absence of their biggest star.
The former US Open champion failed to recover in time from a wrist injury, leaving world No.95-ranked Harriet Dart to lead the team against some of the world’s best players.
Great Britain take on Kazakhstan with Wimbledon champions Elena Rybakina and Spain’s Paula Badosa in round-robin matches at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, who need to win the group to advance to the semi-finals.
Each draw consists of two singles games and one doubles game and Great Britain’s best hope may lie with Boulter, who has seven wins and just one loss from his eight singles games in the competition formerly known as the Fed Cup.
“I think it brings out the best in me,” the 26-year-old said. “It’s something you can’t replicate, it’s bigger than you.
“I am very proud to carry the flag and have a number of these ties in the UK. I have already seen what it will be like and I am sure there will be more to come in Glasgow. I play for these moments and I will enjoy it.”
Boulter is demoted to rank 130 but has proven, especially on the big stage, that her powerful play and fighting spirit can win her over much higher ranked players.
I know I can go out there and play against some of the best in the world and have a chance.
On the field, she scored six wins against the top 100 players this summer, including two against 2021 Wimbledon runner-up Karolina Pliskova.
“You always have to remember that every player is a human being,” Boulter said. “You just have to be better than the person on the other side of the net that day.
“I take the rankings with a grain of salt. I’ve played some really good tennis, probably higher than my ranking and lower than my ranking and that gives me hope that I can go out there and play some of the best in the world and have a chance.
Great Britain earned their wildcard spot as they hosted the tournament after narrowly losing to the Czech Republic in Prague in April.
That draw saw Raducanu make her senior debut for Great Britain and the 19-year-old’s absence is certainly a blow both on the pitch and in the profile of the event.
Boulter said: “She is a great addition to our team and of course we wish her the best. Health comes first and I hope you are better. But it’s time for the girls to stand up and I know they will. I have great faith in each and every one of them.
“With a local crowd behind us, you never know what can happen. We love a stranger. Hopefully we can bring some Emma Raducanu magic to the Billie Jean King Cup. We have no pressure, we have nothing to lose at all.”
Raducanu has seen the downside of his rise to stardom this season, but his incredible triumph in New York in 2021 has given hope to his compatriots further down the pyramid.
Boulter counts himself among them, saying, “I think she changed everything. I think she gave everyone a little glimpse of what it takes and what can happen. I think everyone in the building hums that buzz a bit. She gives them hope that they can be.”
The question for Boulter isn’t so much skill or potential as whether he can stay fit long enough to at least become a regular on the WTA Tour.
An exhausting illness in his youth limited Boulter’s ability to train and build a slow process marked by many setbacks, most notably a back injury sustained during a Billie Jean King Cup eliminator in 2019 when he entered the Advanced Top 100.
“It really has been a rollercoaster ride,” said the Leicestershire player. “I just have to keep my focus on the right things. I firmly believe that I will have my rest.”
Heather Watson and stunt duo Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls complete the GB squad in Glasgow.
The best videos every day.
See the stories that matter right in your inbox