Fed Cup: Great Britain hope to persuade Johanna Konta to play

Johanna Konta
Johanna Konta won both of her singles matches in last year's play-off victory over Kazakhstan

Great Britain hope to persuade top-ranked Johanna Konta to play in the next Fed Cup tie after she missed their qualifying defeat by Slovakia.

Great Britain lost 3-1 in Bratislava and failed to qualify for April's inaugural Fed Cup Finals. Instead, they face a play-off to avoid relegation.

Konta, ranked 14th in the world, opted to sit out the tie to reduce her workload and protect her body.

British captain Anne Keothavong said it had been a "blow" to be without Konta.

The team will now play a qualifying tie in April to get back to this stage in next year's competition - and avoid relegation to the Europe/Africa zone that is notoriously difficult to get out of.

"Without her this week, we certainly felt it, but it would have been tough even if she had made herself available," Keothavong told BBC Sport.

When asked how she could persuade Konta to return, the captain replied: "Read the Art of Persuasion?! Naturally there will be another conversation with Jo to see if she can be persuaded, but like I've said before, once she makes up her mind on something she tends to stick to it.

"Maybe I'll remind her about her heroic performances last year, and what she did on the back of those wins - maybe that might help her change her mind."

The British number one, who made her Fed Cup debut in 2013 and has won 18 of her 25 singles matches, was instrumental in April's World Group II play-off victory over Kazakhstan.

She came from a set down against Zarina Diyas and Yulia Putintseva to help Great Britain end a 26-year wait for Fed Cup promotion.

Her performances in the competition appeared to be a catalyst for success in the clay-court season that followed as she reached finals in Morocco and Rome before a run to the semi-finals of the French Open.

Konta, 28, went out in the first round at the Australian Open last month, having only played one tournament since September's US Open because of a knee injury.

In the absence of Konta and former British number two Katie Boulter, who is in the early stages of a return from a back stress fracture, the British team in Bratislava was led by Heather Watson and Harriet Dart.

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