Fed Cup: Ecstatic Keothavong ‘aged 20 years’ as doubles gamble pays off
By Ros Satar
- GB edge Croatia in the deciding doubles rubber to book their spot in the World Group II play-offs in April
- Anne Keothavong switched the doubles pairing to Heather Watson & Johanna Konta
- Watson unbeaten throughout the tie
TALLINN, ESTONIA – Anne Keothavong marked her first tie at the helm of Great Britain’s Fed Cup campaign with a near flawless performance.
Heather Watson def. Donna Vekic 6-2 6-4
British No. 2 Heather Watson kept her unbeaten run intact throughout this tie as she showed the dominance and attack that had guided her to straight sets wins against Donna Vekic. It looked though as though her momentum was halted as Vekic broke at the start of the second set, going ahead 2-0 before Watson reeled off five games in a row.
The Croatian fought back to claim the next two games, breaking Watson as she attempted to serve out the match. The Brit broke for the match, converting on her fifth match point to put GB in the lead.
Ana Konjuh def. Johanna Konta 6-4 6-3
In GB’s only loss of the weekend Ana Konjuh showed why she is one of the WTA’s rising stars, holding the World No. 10 Johanna Konta to a straight sets loss and levelling the final tie. Konta had tried to battle back, breaking back twice only to surrender the break in the next game.
Johanna Konta/Heather Watson def. Darija Jurak/Ana Konjuh 4-6 6-4 6-3
It was a mighty big call by Team GB Captain Anne Keothavong to switch in Konta and Watson for Jocelyn Rae and Laura Robson who had also been unbeaten throughout the rounds, albeit playing dead rubbers. For a time it looked as though it may have backfired as the Brits conceded the first set.
It looked more promising in the second set, as Britain took the lead, only to be pegged back immediately. They held their nerve to break the Croats for the second set. The nerves were fraying in the third set with four successive breaks to start proceedings before GB managed a hold.
That seemed to turn the momentum for the Brits. Although they failed to convert on two break points, they held comfortably, and then made no mistake in the next game, breaking for a 5-3 lead. It took just one match point to seal their spot in the World Group II Play-offs in April.
— British Tennis (@BritishTennis) February 11, 2017
Who will they face?
GB will face the losing team of the following current ties:
Fed Cup Format
Unlike the Davis Cup, the Fed Cup World Group is split into two groups of eight rather than a single group of 16 countries. Having now escaped the regional group stages, they will wait for the results of the draw from the losers of the World Group II First Round ties currently in play.
It could mean a home tie for the first time since 1993, and we have seen many times in Davis Cup ties how home advantage has helped the Brits.
The draw for the World Group II playoffs will take place on Tuesday 14 February.
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