Great Britain were relegated from the Davis Cup World Group today after Greg Rusedski was beaten in the delayed deciding singles rubber against Morocco in Casablanca.
Trailing 2-1 to Hicham Arazi when play was suspended last night, Rusedski earned the first break of the fourth set but could not hold on and went down 5-7 7-5 7-6 (9-7) 7-6 (7-5).
Rusedski did enough to take the set to a tie-break but a lucky net cord gave Arazi the security of two mini-breaks, one of which he capitalised on to win.
The 3-2 defeat means Britain will play in Euro Africa Zone One of the competition next year.
The first four games went with serve but although it was Arazi who initially appeared to be having the least trouble holding, it was Rusedski who was the first to break through.
Rusedski, aided by a point penalty, claimed the initiative in the fifth game as he took advantage of his second break point.
After holding his serve with ease, he then caused further problems in a seventh game interrupted by a confrontation between Morocco captain Karim Alami and the umpire.
But he could not convert any of his four break points and paid the penalty as Arazi broke back to level at 4-4 in the next.
Both players took good points of each other's serve in the next four games and Arazi was two points off victory at one stage but Rusedski held firm to force a tie-break.
Arazi however claimed a decisive advantage when a cross-court shot clipped the top of the net and bounced over, leaving Rusedski with no chance to retrieve and two mini-breaks down.
He clawed back a couple of points but Arazi finished the job on his third match point.
Rusedski was left to reflect on what might have been after seeing several key net-cord shots go his opponent's way.
"I had some chances and just needed a little bit of luck," he said on BBC2. It did just not happen for me, there were one or two net-cord balls - but that is the way tennis goes."
He added: "I am a little tired. It was a long weekend and unfortunately we did not get the result. We did our best - that's all we can do."
Britain's team captain Roger Taylor added: "Greg tried to push himself. He gave everything.
"He looked good, had a break, but just couldn't take it."
Morocco team captain Karim Alami hailed his side's triumph.
"It is great to come back into the World Group," he said on BBC2.
"It is always an unbelievable experience in the Davis Cup and I am very proud of the team. There was a lot of tension and we are very happy with the way things finished."
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