Second seeded Great Britain got off to the best possible Fed Cup Euro Africa Group 1 start with a 3-0 victory over South Africa in Eilat, Israel on Thursday. was South Africa’s second and final Pool B tie after losing to Georgia on Wednesday with the identical score line. The Brits whom have players ranked in the top 100 in the world simply outplayed the lesser ranked South Africans.
The favoured Brits captained by Judy Murray, mother of world number two, Andy Murray failed to lose a set in all three rubbers played against South Africa. In the opening rubber played between the number two players, Britain’s Katie Swan beat South Africa’s Ilze Hattingh 6-3, 6-0 in five minutes short of an hour. A break by Britain’s youngest ever Fed Cup debutant, Swan, was secured straight away to lead 2-0 and despite being pegged back to 3-3, Swan then put her foot down to win the next nine games in a row to get her Fed Cup career off to the perfect start.
Britain then secured the tie when their number one player Heather Watson beat Chanel Simmonds, the South African number one, 6-3, 6-3. Watson broke twice early in the match on her way to a 4-2 lead and broke once more to land the opener 6-3. Simmonds fought back to take the lead in the second but Watson broke back three times to seal the 6-3, 6-3 win in one hour 19 minutes.
Unfortunately opportunities were not taken by the South African against her top 100 world ranked opponent when they presented themselves. In the dead doubles rubber, British duo Jocelyn Rae and Anna Smith, who went unbeaten in Fed Cup 2015, carried their momentum from reaching the Australian Open third round onto the courts in Israel. A 0-2 deficit against South Africa’s Madrie Le Roux and Michelle Sammons was quickly turned into to a 4-2 lead in the first set as they stamped their authority on the match by clinching the opener 6-3.
A more comfortable second followed as they raced into a 3-0 lead and were always in control as they wrapped it up 6-3, 6-2 on their second match point after just over an hour. Britain will now play Georgia on Friday in their final Pool B tie to determine top spot of the Pool and who will progress into the promotion play-offs. South Africa will have to fight it out with the Pool D loser in the relegation play-offs over the weekend.
Allan Karam, Tennis South Africa Board Member travelling with the South African team confirmed that the players were going to have two training sessions tomorrow (Friday) on their off day with the main purpose of the practice sessions being to focus on capitalizing on opportunities.
Photo credit: Nir Keidar