ITF Fed Cup: Brave Baltacha Fails to Keep Tie Alive for GB
By Ros Satar
Maria Irigoyen def Elena Baltacha 7-5, 3-6, 6-1
Argentina pulled off perhaps an unsurprising win on clay against Great Britain, when Maria Irigoyen battled past a tiring Elena Baltacha in the third set,
It was all change for the fourth rubber, with both teams making changes from the original order.
Early in the day, it was confirmed that GB team captain, Judy Murray, had decided to put Elena Baltacha in, standing Johanna Konta down, after her first rubber defeat.
There was a lot of debate amongst pundits as to whether this was wise, although Anne Keothavong (listed for doubles) has been suffering from a foot injury.
Certainly it was a gamble, as Baltacha previously had to retire 1-5 down in the third set of her comeback match after a long injury lay-off.
But Baltacha started very spiritedly with a hold to love, and the games settled in with serve.
The first break went to the Argentinian, but Baltacha broke back with a ferocious forehand winner, only to hand the break advantage back, care of a double-fault.
Baltacha broke back again, but lost the advantage with the fifth service break in succession, to leave the Argentinian to serve for the first set again.
Irigoyen saw two set points saved, before taking the first set 7-5, ensuring it would be a long fight back for Baltacha.
Baltacha fought hard to come back from having been down a break early in the second, getting back on even terms.
She then got a decisive break back to lead 5-3, and served out the second set to take the rubber into a final set.
Baltacha and Irigoyen traded breaks before the Argentinian stretched to a double break lead.
Despite having break points against Irigoyen, it just took one match point for Argentina to win the tie 3-1.
A clearly upset Baltacha was consoled by captain Judy Murray, who took the brave decision to play her.
Argentina will now go through to World Group II.
The final (dead) rubber saw Johanna Konta replacing Laura Robson, against an unchanged Argentine nomination of Mailen Auroux and Maria Irigoyen.
Even though on paper, this was a tie GB could have won, the surface and speed of the court presented more than enough challenges for the team, as well as perhaps a lack of recent consistency.
With the National Tennis Centre boasting clay courts, perhaps there is a case for putting some focus on improving proficiency on their least favoured surface ahead of next year’s zonal ties.