Katie Boulter was beaten by Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva as Great Britain suffered a losing start to their Billie Jean King Cup Finals campaign in Glasgow.
Boulter, the British number two for the event, made a strong start and took the opening set but Putintseva fought back to claim a 4-6 6-3 6-2 victory at the Emirates Arena.
It was only Boulter’s second loss in 11 matches in the competition, with her first coming against the same player in a tie at London’s Copper Box in 2019.
She took a medical time-out after three games of the decider for treatment to her left calf, which will be a concern for captain Anne Keothavong ahead of Thursday’s clash with Spain.
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Although Boulter is ranked nearly 80 places below Putintseva at 130, she has been a consistent big-match performer and this appeared Britain’s best chance of a point in a tie they went into as heavy underdogs.
Harriet Dart will now need to beat Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina to keep the contest alive.
The Emirates Arena has been the de facto home of Britain’s Davis Cup team for nearly a decade but there was nothing like the atmosphere that has made some of those ties so memorable, with a sparse crowd and the enthusiastic band of Kazakhstan fans making most of the noise.
Boulter made the perfect start, breaking the Putintseva serve twice to love either side of dropping serve herself.
The 26-year-old from Leicestershire should have secured a second break at 4-2 but put that behind her, saving break points in the next game and clinching the set on her second opportunity.
Putintseva had lost six of her last seven matches but she is known as one of the feistiest characters on tour and has a fine record playing for her country.
She began to get on top from the baseline, coping better with Boulter’s big groundstrokes, and deservedly took the second set, securing the only break of serve in the sixth game.
Boulter then lost the opening four games of the third set and, although she managed some late resistance, it was too little, too late.