Jocelyn Rae helps GB seal clean sweep in Fed Cup opener

Scotland's Jocelyn Rae teamed up with Laura Robson to win the final doubles rubber for GB in their Fed Cup clash with Portugal. Picture: Getty Images for LTA

Scotland's Jocelyn Rae teamed up with Laura Robson to win the final doubles rubber for GB in their Fed Cup clash with Portugal. Picture: Getty Images for LTA

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Great Britain got off to a perfect start on the opening day of their Fed Cup Euro/Africa Zone Group I campaign with a 3-0 win over Portugal in 
Estonia.

Under new captain Anne Keothavong, the British squad is aiming to come through a round-robin phase which will also see ties against Latvia and Turkey in a bid to reach a play-off for a place in the World Group II.

Heather Watson, the British No 2, breezed through yesterday’s opening rubber against Ines Murta, whose singles ranking is 546, to complete a 6-1, 6-1 victory in under an hour.

Johanna Konta, world No 10 and highest ranked player in the zonal group, then saw off Michelle Larcher de Brito 6-2, 6-4 which gave Great Britain, seeded third of the 14 nations competing in Tallinn, an unassailable 2-0 lead.

Laura Robson teamed up with 25-year-old Scot Jocelyn Rae against Larcher de Brito and Murta for the final doubles rubber, which Britain came through 6-2, 6-3.

Britain play Latvia today, coming up against world 
No 35 Jelena Ostapenko, before finishing the scheduled Pool C matches against 
Turkey tomorrow.

Should Keothavong’s squad secure top spot, they would then play off against the winners from Pool B on Saturday for the chance to progress to a World Group II promotion play-off in April.

“It was brilliant,” Keothavong said afterwards. “Heather got us off to a great start, she was the more experienced player out there so the pressure was on her to perform and she delivered.

“Jo again was ever the professional. It was a cracking start from her, but Larcher de Brito raised her level at the start of the second set, so it was a good fight from both of them. She had to work for it and it was a good challenge.

“Laura and Joc teamed up for a fantastic doubles. I know they have not played too much together, but watching them play there, you’d never have thought that. They took charge and did what they had to do.

“The first day, a clean sweep, what more can I ask for?”

Keothavong, though, knows the British squad face more challenges ahead at the indoor Tallink Centre.

“It is only going to get more difficult for us now. All of the girls played well and we will need more from them over the next few days,” said Keothavong, who took over as Fed Cup captain from Judy Murray. “Latvia will be a tougher challenge, but I think we are ready for it.”

Watson praised Keothavong’s leadership as Britain look to return to the competition’s top tier for the first time since 1993. She said: “It was great having Annie there. She was great and she’ll continue to do a great job and so far I’ve really been enjoying the trip with her as captain.”

Konta, who reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, also believes the group is bonding well.

“I think Anne is doing a tremendous job at bringing us together as a team,” the British No 1 said. “It is always tricky because we spend most of the year as individuals travelling, so for her to be able to do such a good job with us says a lot about her.”

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