Tennis: Britain away on clay again

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN have drawn another trial on clay with a visit to Portugal in March for a Davis Cup tie that will decide whether they go forward to play a qualifier for a place in the World Group in September or are involved in a July play-off against South Africa or Romania to avoid demotion to the Euro-African Zone Second Division, writes John Roberts.

April's defeat by Hungary on clay in Budapest left Tony Pickard and his team in limbo. It was Britain's third consecutive away loss, following those in India and France.

Britain's last win was against Austria in Manchester in 1991. Two previous ties against Portugal have been won 5-0, in Lisbon in 1949 and Nottingham in 1985. Since beating Ireland 5-0 in 1991, Portugal have lost at home to Israel, Russia and the Netherlands.

Joao Cunha-Silva, Portugal's leading player, was a member of their team in Nottingham. He took the opening set off Andre Agassi in the second round at Wimbledon this year but lost

5-7, 6-3, 6-2, 6-0.