Laura Robson, who has won only two matches in the six tournaments she has played since the Australian Open, is likely to hold the key to Britain’s chances in this weekend’s Fed Cup play-off against Argentina in Buenos Aires.
The world No 38, who is the only top 100 player in either squad, may have to win both her singles rubbers and tomorrow’s doubles if Britain are to claim the prize of a place in the World Group.
While an on-form Robson would be expected to beat Florencia Molinero (world No 224) today and Paula Ormaechea (world No 143) tomorrow, the other singles rubbers could be tight. Judy Murray, Britain’s captain, has named 21-year-old Johanna Konta (world No 164) as her second singles player ahead of the experienced Anne Keothavong (world No 193) and Elena Baltacha (world No 208), though late changes are permitted. Robson and Keothavong have been named as the doubles pair to face Maria Irigoyen and Mailen Auroux.
Even without the ill Heather Watson, Murray believes Britain have strength in depth but admitted: “The Argentines have the advantage of playing at home and on clay, which would be their preferred surface, so for us that’s a challenge.”
The opening European clay-court tournament of the men’s season could be heading for a familiar finale after Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic won their quarter-finals at the Monte Carlo Masters yesterday. Nadal beat the Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov winning 6-2, 2-6, 6-4. In today’s semi-finals he meets France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who beat Stanislas Wawrinka, Andy Murray’s conqueror, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.