By Ros Satar
- Fed Cup captain Judy Murray puts Johanna Konta and Heather Watson front and centre of the 2016 campaign
- Doubles specialists Jocelyn Rae & Anna Smith along with Laura Robson and Katie Swan also named in the squad to travel to Eilat, Israel
Judy Murray names a six-strong team to travel to Israel for the Euro/Africa Zone Group 1 clash.
With Murray out in Australia currently helping British No. 2 Heather Watson, and the British No. 1 Johanna Konta about to start her season in WTA Shenzhen where she is the No. 5 seed, the British team looks good on paper to advance out of the tough group/pool tie.
Also in the team are doubles specialists Jocelyn Rae and Anna Smith. In Fed Cup the final rubber is the doubles and the decision to include the established doubles pairing is a sensible one.
There was, however, no nod for the British No. 3 Naomi Broady who battled her way through a tough qualifying final round against the top seeded Magdalena Rybarikova and earned herself a first round match up in the main draw against former finalist Ana Ivanovic.
Instead, Laura Robson comes into the side, despite opting not to use her protected ranking to get into the Australian Open, as she continues to build up after continuing issues with her wrist towards the end of last year.
Making up the six-strong team that will travel to Israel is top ranked junior (3) Katie Swan, with the final team to be named by Tuesday 2 February.
Speaking to the LTA while out in Perth, Murray said: “We are taking a squad of six to the Fed Cup in Eilat and a team of four will be selected just before the event starts.
“This allows the whole squad to get match sharp during January and an opportunity to make the final four. This will hopefully enable us to have a winning shot of getting out of our group which is always notoriously difficult and qualify for April’s World Group II Play-Offs.”
Konta and Watson will reunite in Hobart where the British No. 2 is the defending champion. She started her Hopman Cup campaign with a tough defeat to France’s Caroline Garcia before she and Andy Murray teamed up for a mixed doubles win.
Great Britain joins South Africa, Estonia, Sweden, Ukraine, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Hungary, Israel, Latvia, Portugal and Turkey for the pool-based competition.
On 8 January the draw will place the nations into two pools of three nations and two pools of four, where the pool winners face each other – Pool A v Pool C, Pool B v Pool D. The top two nations will advance to the World Group II play-offs in April.
The Fed Cup Euro/Africa Zone Group 1 tie will take place in Eilat, Israel between 3-6 February.
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