JUDY Murray’s dream start as Fed Cup captain continued yesterday as Great Britain defeated Austria in Israel to secure promotion to the World Group II play-offs.
Anne Keothavong got Britain off to the perfect start when she defeated Patricia Mayr-Achleitner 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 in a hard-fought contest in Eilat.
Elena Baltacha then defeated Tamira Paszek 6-4, 6-1 to complete a dream week for the British team after they won their group by beating Portugal, Netherlands and Israel.
Knowing a victory would be enough to render Heather Watson and Laura Robson’s doubles match a dead rubber, the British No.1 Baltacha began at a high tempo which her opponent, ranked No.48 in the world, simply couldn’t handle. The Scot made a mockery of being nine places lower than Paszek in the world rankings by winning the first 16 points in a row to race into a 4-0 lead. The second set was more competitive but Baltacha closed it out to spark rapturous scenes of celebration by the British team.
Earlier, Keothavong recovered from being broken to love in the opening game and edged a tight first set on a tiebreak. The British No.2 and world No.88 kicked on in the second set and earned a double break to lead 5-2. She failed to serve out but broke in the next game to secure a vital opening win for the team.
Great Britain will now play a World Group II play-off in April against one of the four losers from that section. The eight teams competing in World Group II over the weekend are United States, Belarus, Japan, Slovenia, Slovakia, France, Switzerland and Australia.