GREAT Britain advanced to the Fed Cup World Group II play-offs thanks to impressive singles victories for Laura Robson and Heather Watson in their clash with Bulgaria in Israel.
Robson cruised past Dia Evtimova 6-0, 6-4 in the opening rubber of the World Group I play-off at the Municipal Tennis Club in Eilat yesterday. Watson was then made to work much harder, but prevailed with a battling 1-6, 6-4, 6-2 success against Tsvetana Pironkova.
Britain’s World Group II play-off will take place on the weekend of 20-21 April, with the venue and opponents to be decided on Wednesday morning.
World No 45 Robson asserted her authority early on against Evtimova, hardly giving her 253rd-ranked opponent a look-in as she stormed through the first set in 21 minutes.
Evtimova briefly threatened to make a match of it by breaking the Robson serve early in the second set, but the British No 2 swiftly broke back to reduce hopes of a Bulgaria comeback.
The encounter then went with serve until 5-4, when Robson finished things off.
In contrast, world No 41 Watson did not have it all her own way against 44th-ranked Pironkova. The Bulgarian broke the British No 1’s serve in just the third game and did not look back, breezing through the first set in 25 minutes.
Watson ended a run of seven straight games for Pironkova by winning her first service game of the second set, and then finally secured her first break of the match in game seven. That proved crucial in clinching the second set to force a decider.
The 20-year-old wasted no time in taking charge of the third set, racing into a 4-0 lead before Pironkova found her feet. The Plovdiv-born 25-year-old then broke the Watson serve to get back to 4-2, but Watson refused to relinquish her advantage and promptly broke back then held serve to seal the win.
A delighted Robson took to Twitter soon after, posting: “We did it!!! Very very happy.”