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London | Great Britain to face Mexico in Fed Cup play-off

Team GB will take on Mexico, away, in their upcoming Fed Cup play-off, taking place on 17 and 18 April.

 

Naturally there will be another conversation with Jo to see if she can be persuaded, but like I've said before, once she makes up her mind on something she tends to stick to it. Maybe I'll remind her about her heroic performances last year, and what she did on the back of those wins - maybe that might help her change her mind. Anne Keothavong

The tie marks the second head-to-head between the two nations, with their first and only meeting in 1973 in Germany, with the Brits taking a 3-0 win, courtesy of Virginia Wade & Joyce Williams

Britain will be bidding to win a place in the 2021 Fed Cup Finals qualifiers, following their tough 3-1 defeat to Slovakia in Bratislava.

By falling to the Slovakians on clay, Anne Keothavong’s squad of Heather Watson, Harriet Dart, Naiktha Bains, Katie Swan and Emma Raducanu, narrowly missed out on a place in the new Fed Cup Finals, to be held in Budapest from 14-19 April.

Great Britain are amongst the 8 nations from February’s Fed Cup Finals who will compete in the play-offs, whilst Mexico are one of the 8 who advanced from the regional Group I events.

Victory for the Brits against Mexico would give them a shot at qualifying for the 2021 Fed Cup Finals.

A loss, however, would lead to returning to the zonal group stage.


Johanna Konta celebrates with team mates and staff after winning her second singles match against Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva in 2019

© Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images for LTA

Last year, Great Britain ended a 26-year wait for promotion to the World Group level of the women’s team competition.

They had reached promotion play-offs 5 times in 8 years before finally getting out of the Europe/Africa zone and will be keen to avoid slipping back so soon.

Britain were without World No 14 Johanna Konta for the 3-1 defeat in Bratislava after she opted to sit out the Fed Cup this year to protect her body following a knee injury and concentrate on the Olympics.

Keothavong has said she will try to persuade Konta to change her mind and return to the team for the play-off, but it could be a hard prospect to sell with the tie being played in Mexico at a time when several of the WTA events are being played on clay in Europe as players gear up for the French Open in May.

“Without her this week [in Bratislava], we certainly felt it, but it would have been tough even if she had made herself available,” Keothavong told BBC Sport.

When asked how she could persuade Konta to return, the captain replied: “Read the Art of Persuasion?!

“Naturally there will be another conversation with Jo to see if she can be persuaded, but like I’ve said before, once she makes up her mind on something she tends to stick to it.

“Maybe I’ll remind her about her heroic performances last year, and what she did on the back of those wins – maybe that might help her change her mind.”

The draw on Tuesday included two spaces for the nations advancing from the delayed Asia/Oceania Group I event that is now taking place in Dubai on 3-7 March after being delayed and the venue changed from China because of the outbreak of the coronavirus.

The full draw:

(C) = Choice of Ground 

  • Brazil v Poland (C)
  • Great Britain v Mexico (C)
  • Canada v Serbia (C)
  • Latvia (C) v Asia/Oceania Nation TBC
  • Japan (C) v Ukraine
  • Romania (C) v Italy
  • Kazakhstan v Argentina ©
  • Netherlands (C) v Asia/Oceania Nation TBC

Like the qualifier against Slovakia, GB’s play-off will follow a best of five rubber format of 4 singles and 1 doubles.

In terms of quality of opposition, the draw could have been a lot less favourable for Team GB, with the Mexican No 1 Marcela Zacarias ranked 257 so the likes of Heather Watson and Harriet Dart, who acquitted herself well on her singles debut in the competition, should feel confident of securing victory.





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