Tennis / Davis Cup: Britain out of elite

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN were relegated from the Davis Cup premier division yesterday after crashing to a two-day defeat in their World Group showdown with India in New Delhi. Tony Pickard's team, trailing 1-0 overnight, were condemned to at least a year in the wilderness of the Euro-Africa zone when the home team clinched an unbeatable 3-0 lead.

First Mark Petchey lost to Ramesh Krishnan in their resumed singles match and then Petchey and Neil Broad were beaten by Krishnan and Leander Paes in the doubles.

Britain had been clinging to an overnight lifeline with Petchey level at two sets all with Krishnan before bad light drove them off court. But the Indian stalwart took just 34 minutes to complete a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-7, 6-1 victory over the 22-year-old Essex lad.

With Britain needing to win the doubles to preserve their World Group status, Pickard was forced to play the makeshift combination of Petchey and Broad after Bates pulled out with a stomach injury. They were no match for the mix of youth and experience served up by the 19-year-old Paes and the 31-year-old Krishnan, who won 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.

Relegation from the World Group of 16 elite nations comes just 12 months after Britain won promotion by beating Austria. Although the 5-0 whitewash by the holders France in Bayonne earlier this year was excusable, the Indian debacle is disastrous at a time when British tennis chiefs are talking up the domestic game.

Marc Rosset and Jakob Hlasek demolished Cassio Motta and Fernando Roese of Brazil in three sets yesterday to clinch an historic Swiss place in the Davis Cup tennis final. And Andre Agassi and Jim Courier recovered from dropping their first sets to give the United States a 2-0 lead over the Sweden in Minneapolis.

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