Fed Cup: Katie Swan & Heather Watson beaten as GB lose play-off

Katie Swan
Katie Swan made her Fed Cup debut on Thursday and won both her rubbers against South Africa and Georgia

Great Britain's Fed Cup promotion hopes ended after Katie Swan and Heather Watson both lost against Belgium.

Swan, 16, was beaten 6-3 3-6 6-3 by Ysaline Bonaventure in the opening rubber of the best-of-three tie.

Watson, 23, led 4-2 in the final set but eventually lost 6-4 3-6 6-4 to Alison van Uytvanck as Belgium took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the Group 1 promotion play-off in Eilat, Israel.

"The Belgian team were a bit stronger than us," captain Judy Murray said.

"All in all, there are lots of things to be pleased about but we are very disappointed we didn't get out of this zone - we have been stuck in here for years and I am fed up of it."

Murray's squad beat South Africa and Georgia this week to reach the Group 1 play-off.

Both British players were ranked lower than their opponents, with Swan the world number 524 and Bonaventure at 160, while Watson is 42 places below Van Uytvanck at 85 in the rankings.

With the result of the tie already decided after the two singles matches, they did not play the doubles.

Judy Murray and Heather Watson
British Fed Cup captain Judy Murray said Heather Watson "backed up a bit in the key moments and her opponent came up with some big serves"

GB were without world number 28 and Australian Open semi-finalist Johanna Konta, who withdrew with illness, and Naomi Broady, whose family has a long-running dispute with the Lawn Tennis Association.

Former British number one Laura Robson was not considered as she is in the early stages of her latest comeback from wrist injuries.

Murray added: "Next year we want a full team out, get out of the zone into the World Group to have some home and away ties, and really showcase British women's tennis to the fans in Britain."

The defeat by Belgium means GB miss out on a World Group II play-off in April, and the possibility of a first home tie for Britain's women since 1993.

International Tennis Federation president David Haggerty says his organisation is reviewing the format of the Fed Cup.

"The competition has benefited from the home-and-away knock-out format that has been so successful in the Davis Cup, and the ITF is looking at new formats that would allow a 16-team World Group, something that is favoured by many of our constituents," he said.

Fed Cup Format
Britain are in Europe/Africa Group 1 - a 14-team group divided into four pools that is played out once a year over a week. Two teams qualify for a World Group II play-off in April, two teams are relegated to Europe/Africa Zone Group II.
World Group II is an eight-team division played out over home or away ties - GB have not played a home tie since 1993.

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