Elena Baltacha return eases Fed Cup concerns in absence of Heather Watson

Judy Murray names squad for play-off away to Argentina

As one door closes another opens. While Heather Watson’s unavailability is a setback for Britain’s hopes of winning their Fed Cup promotion play-off away to Argentina next week, Elena Baltacha’s return to competition after a nine-month absence with injury will give a timely boost to Judy Murray’s team.

Watson, who has glandular fever, was missing when Murray named Laura Robson (world No 39), Johanna Konta (No 154), Anne Keothavong (No 184) and Baltacha (No 209) in her squad for the tie in Buenos Aires from 20-21 April. The winners will join the World Group, in which Britain have not played for 20 years.

While Britain have an edge in world rankings - Argentina’s top four players are Paula Ormaechea (world No 145), Maria Irigoyen (No 203), Florencia Molinero (No 239) and Mailen Auroux (No 328) - the home side will have the advantages of a passionate crowd and their choice of playing surface (clay). “Of course we will miss having Heather with us in Buenos Aires, but we are fortunate to have strength in depth and a great mix of youth and experience,” Murray said.

Britain may have to rely heavily on Robson, who this week replaced Watson as British No 1, but Konta performs well on clay, Keothavong has just won her first tournament for 17 months at an International Tennis Federation event in France and Baltacha will today play her first match since the Olympics.

Baltacha, who was British No 1 only 10 months ago, had an ankle operation in October and has worked hard on regaining fitness. She is playing this week on clay in Pelham, Alabama, where her first opponent will be Canada’s Sharon Fichman.

At first undecided as to whether she would even attempt to resume her career, 29-year-old Baltacha rediscovered her appetite for competition while doing some coaching last autumn. She believes that taking a lengthy break has helped her to look at her sport in a more positive frame of mind.

“I just feel that I’m in a great situation to have this opportunity again,” Baltacha said. “I know that not many players would have this chance. I’m very excited to be coming back.”

After the Fed Cup Baltacha plans to play in Virginia, Nice and Prague before heading to the French Open, where she will get into the main draw with a protected ranking following her injury lay-off. In the longer term she hopes to improve her ranking sufficiently to earn direct entry into next year’s Australian Open.

Sport
Australia vs New Zealand live
cricket Follow over-by-over coverage as rivals New Zealand and Australia face off
Sport
Hamilton runs down the back straight in the rain
F1
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
Life and Style
Researchers found that just 10 one-minute swill-and-spit sessions are enough to soften tooth enamel and make teeth vulnerable to erosion
health
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Regent Street Cinema’s projection room in the 1920s
film
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing