Watson needs to lead from front

HEATHER WATSON takes on the responsibility of heading the Great Britain team today as they battle Slovakia for a spot in the inaugural Fed Cup Finals.

(B&O Press Photo)
(B&O Press Photo)

The 27-year-old Guernsey star and current WTA No. 74 will provide a welcome dose of experience for a squad that, unfortunately, lacks established top player Johanna Konta due to injury concerns.

Harriet Dart, 23, will step up as the second-highest -ranked player in the GB team, at world No. 141, for the qualifying tie in Bratislava. Watson’s other teammates – 22-year-old Naiktha Bains, 20-year-old Katie Swan and 17-year-old Emma Radacanu – are all outside the world top 200.

Slovakia enter the tie with an able ace in world No. 65 Viktoria Kuzmova and four other players ranked tightly between 161 to 199 on the global stage.

The unusual indoor clay courts of the AXA Arena venue will further test the Brits, with Slovakia captain Matej Liptak being relatively forthcoming about the decision to choose a venue that favours his side.

But Watson is clearly up for the challenge.

‘I love taking every opportunity to represent my country and I have done every year of my career,’ she said.

‘I will give everything I’ve got, as I always do, and hopefully we can beat Slovakia and qualify for the finals in April.’

Meanwhile, British captain Anne Keothavong remains relatively upbeat despite the inexperience of the squad.

‘We have some very exciting young players in our squad who are ecstatic to be part of this team and I’m sure will rise to the big occasion,’ she added.

The ties are best-of-five matches, four singles and a doubles.

The draw sees Watson take on Anna Karolina Schmiedlova today before Dart takes on Kuzomva. Those rubbers will be reversed tomorrow.

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