Tennis: US too strong for Britain

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BRITAIN were beaten 3-0 by the United States in the first round of the Federation Cup finals in Frankfurt yesterday.

The US team were without either Jennifer Capriati or Mary Joe Fernandez, who are resting before the Barcelona Olympics. Yet they proved far too strong for Britain, though Monique Javer made a fine start against Gigi Fernandez, going 4-1 up in the first set before things went horribly wrong.

Javer, 24, looking increasingly slow and bewildered, then lost 10 consecutive games before going down 6-4, 6-1.

Jo Durie produced a less embarrassing performance and held her own well in a hard-fought first set against Lori McNeil. But a careless, sliced backhand into the net gave away the opening set and from then on it was always an uphill battle for the 31-year-old from Bristol. McNeil won 7-5, 6-3.

In the doubles, Pam Shriver and Debbie Graham beat Durie and Clare Wood 6-4, 7-6.

Ann Jones, the British non- playing captain, later criticised the competition's format in which only the 16 first-round winners and the four winners of the two- match reverse-draw play-offs automatically qualify for a place in next year's finals. Britain now need to beat Chile or Denmark in the play-offs to reach the 1993 finals. 'I assume the reasons for the change are financial but I don't think it is good for tennis,' Jones said.

Steffi Graf, fresh from her fourth Wimbledon title, quickly adapted her game to the deadly slow clay of the Waldstadion Tennis Centre, putting Germany on the road to a 3-0 victory over New Zealand with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Claudine Toleafoa.

Graf's 17-year-old team-mate, Anke Huber, had an even easier time, beating Hana Guy 6-1, 6-0.

Sabine Hack and Barbara Rittner completed New Zealand's destruction by beating Julie Richardson and Amanda Trail 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.

Germany, who are seeded to play the defending champions, Spain, in Sunday's final now face either Paraguay or the Netherlands for a place in the last eight.