Johanna Konta leads Britain’s bid to join elite in Fed Cup

Anne Keothavong, centre, captain of the Aegon Great Britain Fed Cup team, with, left to right, Johanna Konta, Heather Watson, Laura Robson and Jocelyn Rae. Picture: Getty  Images

Anne Keothavong, centre, captain of the Aegon Great Britain Fed Cup team, with, left to right, Johanna Konta, Heather Watson, Laura Robson and Jocelyn Rae. Picture: Getty Images

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Johanna Konta will lead Great Britain’s bid to qualify for World Group II in their Fed Cup play-off against Romania next weekend.

Britain have not competed at world level in the competition since 1993 but go into the tie on clay at Constanta’s Tenis Club IDU as heavy underdogs.

Much will rely on Konta, who is at a career-high ranking of seven after winning the biggest title of her career in Miami earlier this month.

She is joined in the team by Heather Watson, Laura Robson and Scotland’s Commonwealth Games gold medallist and doubles specialist Jocelyn Rae.

Watson has had a difficult season and is ranked down at 110 but has an excellent record in the Fed Cup, having won 25 rubbers in singles and doubles and lost only seven.

The 24-year-old was unbeaten as Britain booked their place in the play-offs for the third time in six years by coming through the notoriously difficult Europe/Africa Zone Group in February.

After falling at the final hurdle under Judy Murray in 2012 and 2013, it would be a big feather in Anne Keothavong’s cap if she could guide Britain to victory in her first year as captain.

The former British No 1 said: “I am delighted to name the same team who represented us so strongly back in February for our group wins in Estonia to enable us to get through to this play-off.

“Fed Cup is a unique privilege to wear your nation’s colours and it’s something I know all of our team takes great pride in. This is the first time in four years we are in this position and I know everyone is excited by the opportunity.

“Romania have a first-class team and will have home advantage on their best surface. We are very much the underdogs.

“That being said, we have an excellent team spirit with lots of combined Fed Cup experience and Johanna is playing the best tennis of her career.”

World No 5 Simona Halep is in Romania’s team for the tie in her home town, and captain Ilie Nastase has also picked 33rd-ranked Irina-Camelia Begu, world No 47 Monica Niculescu and Sorana Cirstea, ranked 61, in his team.

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