• Fed Cup

Robson and Watson in GB Fed Cup team

ESPN staff
January 7, 2013 « Dodson chasing pigs & squirrels to prepare for Johnson | Chartbeat test »

Laura Robson and Heather Watson will spearhead the first leg of Great Britain's bid to reach the World Group of the Fed Cup in February.

The British No. 1 and No. 2, the first Britons to be ranked in the WTA top 50 at the same time in 25 years, will be joined in Judy Murray's team by Anne Keothavong and debutant Johanna Konta for the Europe/Africa Group I ties.

"Last year's Fed Cup was a great experience for all of us and we came close to securing a place in the World Group for the first time since 1995," Murray said.

"Heather and Laura have pushed themselves up into the top 50 in the WTA rankings this year and they will have wonderfully experienced back-up in Anne and Bally [Elena Baltacha] who have 24 Fed Cups between them.

"We have a great squad and we will be aiming to put ourselves in World Group contention once again."

Great Britain will be fighting for one of the two Europe/Africa Zone Group I play-off spots on offer, with the qualifiers facing World Group opposition in April for a place in the elite competition in 2014.

Watson, who became the first British player to win a WTA title in 25 years when she won the Japan Open in October, will hope to be fully recovered from the elbow injury that has blighted her Australian Open preparations.

"Playing Fed Cup is always a highlight for me during the year," Watson said. "It's a lot of fun and a great honour to compete as a team and represent our country against the best in the world."

"'I am really excited to be part of the Fed Cup team again and I can't wait to get back out there and hopefully win all of our matches," added Robson, who has risen 81 places in little more than a year on the back of her run to the fourth round of the US Open.

They will be joined by 21-year-old Fed Cup debutant Konta, promoted to the squad after breaking into the world's top 200 in 2012.

"I'm so excited it's beyond words," said the Australia-born Briton, adding it is "a real thrill to be nominated alongside Heather, Laura, Anne and Bally."

Keothavong, playing in her 11th Fed Cup tournament, is determined to see the squad qualify for the World Group II after losing out to Sweden in the play-offs last April.

"I feel really proud how we have grown as a team in the last couple of years," the 29-year-old said. "It's an added motivation knowing how close we were to try and take the extra step in 2013."

Baltacha, currently sidelined by her recovery from surgery to remove a floating bone fragment in her foot, will also travel to Eliat in a non-playing capacity, returning to the scene of her pivotal victory against host nation Israel that kept Team GB on course for the play-offs.

"Without a doubt that was one of the best memories of my career last year," said the Scot. "It will be an ideal place to restart my tennis season."

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