Fed Cup 2017: Johanna Konta and Heather Watson secure Great Britain win over Portugal with match to spare

Laura Robson and Jocelyn Rae's doubles match against Larcher de Brito and Ines Murta is now a dead rubber

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The Independent Online

Johanna Konta and Heather Watson secured victory for Great Britain in their opening Fed Cup tie against Portugal in Estonia.

New captain Anne Keothavong leads the squad into the Europe/Africa Group One competition, where Britain will also face Turkey and Latvia in the round robin phase ahead of a potential play-off for a place in the World Group II.

Watson, the British number two, breezed through Wednesday's opening rubber against Ines Murta, whose singles ranking is 546, to complete a 6-1 6-1 victory in under an hour.

As world number 10, Konta, who reached the Australian Open quarter-finals, is the highest ranked player in the zonal group.

The 25-year-old wasted little time in taking control of the second rubber against Michelle Larcher de Brito.

The British number one claimed the opening set 6-2 against the world number 246 in just 30 minutes.

Larcher de Brito, though, held her own at the start of the second set and forced a couple of break chances.

Konta, though, saved each time before then pushing through a break of her own to lead 4-3 and went on to close out a 6-2 6-4 victory on her first match point.

Watson, the world number 72, praised Keothavong's leadership as Britain look to return to the competition's top tier for the first time since 1993.

In an interview on the British Tennis Twitter account, Watson said: "It was great having Annie there. She was great and she'll continue to do a great job and so far I've really been enjoying on the trip with her as captain."

Speaking to British Tennis following her victory at the Talinnk centre, Konta said: "I am really happy to gave gotten a match under my belt. It was a high-level match and got better as it went on.

"She made me work for it in the end, but I am really happy to have come through for the team... and we are going to try to come back stronger every day."

The British number one added: "I think Anne is doing a tremendous job at bringing us together as a team.

"It is always tricky because we spend most of the year as individuals travelling, so for her to be able to do such a good job with us says a lot about her.

"We have got lots of team bonding in the evenings, with a lot of fun things going on."

With Great Britain already 2-0 ahead in the best-of-three tie, the doubles proved a dead rubber, as Laura Robson teamed up with 25-year-old Jocelyn Rae to face Larcher de Brito and Murta. Robson and Rae completed Britain's dominance in the tie with a 6-2 6-3 win.

After both teams had taken break chances, it was the British pair who got in front after Murta failed to hold and left Rae serving for the opening set, which was secured in just 25 minutes.

The 18-year-old Murta suffered another break early in the second set, but Rae then lost her service game as Portugal went to level at 2-2.

Britain, though, kept the pressure on, eventually breaking Larcher de Brito's serve to lead at 5-3.

Robson held as Britain completed a 3-0 victory from their opening Group C tie and will next meet Latvia on Thursday, coming up against world number 35 Jelena Ostapenko.

PA

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