What’s happened during GB’s 26-year World Group absence?

Great Britain v Kazakhstan – Fed Cup World Group II play-off
Venue: Copper Box Arena, London Dates: 20-21 April
Coverage: BBC website will have live text commentaries on all GB matches and you can listen to BBC Radio 5 Live commentary online

Great Britain are bidding to end a 26-year wait for promotion to Fed Cup World Group II this weekend when they take on Kazakhstan.

There will be a best-of-five play-off at London’s Copper Box Arena for Britain, who are at this stage for the fifth time in eight years.

Each of those previous ties was played away from home and ended in defeat, keeping Britain in the third tier of women’s team tennis.

You’d have to go all the way back to 1993 to find the last time Britain were in the World Group.

Since then, there have been five UK prime ministers, 21 versions of the iPhone, and seven football World Cups.

“Five Live” was the UK’s number one at the time – a set of tracks performed by George Michael, Queen, and Lisa Stansfield at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert.

But what else has happened since Britain dropped out of the World Group 26 years ago?

Three of Britain’s Fed Cup team have been born…

Katie Boulter, Harriet Dart and Katie Swann

Heather Watson aged one

Take That have had 12 number one singles…

Take That performing at a concert in 1993

Take That performing in Sheffield earlier this week

Roger Federer has won 20 Grand Slam titles…

Roger Federer with his first and most recent Grand Slam trophies

The number of worldwide mobile phone subscriptions has increased…

A woman using a mobile phone

There have been 11 Olympic tennis singles champions…

Andy Murray with his Olympic medals

Venus Williams and Serena Williams celebrate winning gold at the Olympics in 2012

Average house prices have more than doubled…

Houses in the UK

And Manchester United have won 22 domestic trophies and three European titles…

Steve Bruce and Bryan Robson lifting the Premier League trophy in 1993

Sir Alex Ferguson with the Premier League trophy in 2013

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Djokovic through, Norrie out in Monte Carlo

Novak Djokovic wins in Monte Carlo

World number one Novak Djokovic breezed into the Monte Carlo Masters quarter-finals, but Britain’s Cameron Norrie could not progress from the last 16.

Serbia’s Djokovic, 31, needed just one hour and eight minutes to win 6-3 6-0 against American Taylor Fritz.

Norrie lost 6-2 7-5 to Italian Lorenzo Sonego, ranked 40 places below him.

The British number two, who is set to rise into the top 50 next week, was broken four times and struggled to test Sonego’s serve.

Norrie, 23, did break back when Sonego served for the match at 5-4, only to lose his serve in the next game as the Italian went on to seal victory with a hold to love.

Top seed Djokovic converted six of 10 break points against Fritz as he moved closer to matching Rafael Nadal’s record of 33 Masters titles.

The reigning Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open champion will face a last-eight meeting with Russian 10th seed Daniil Medvedev – who he beat on his way to victory in Melbourne in January and has not lost against in three meetings.

Medvedev, 23, continued his good form against Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas, winning 6-2 1-6 6-4 to extend to four victories his 100% record over the ATP Next Gen champion – who doubled faulted on match point.

Italian 11th seed Marco Cecchinato was knocked out after a 6-4 4-6 6-4 defeat by Argentina’s Guido Pella.

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GB seek boost from home crowd to end 26-year wait for Fed Cup promotion

Johanna Konta

Great Britain v Kazakhstan – Fed Cup World Group II play-off
Venue: Copper Box Arena, London Dates: 20-21 April 2019
Coverage: BBC website will have live text commentaries on all GB matches and you can listen to BBC Radio 5 live commentary online

British number one Johanna Konta is hoping for more of the home-crowd energy that pulled her back from the brink of exhaustion in their last tie when GB seek Fed Cup promotion this weekend.

Britain face Kazakhstan in a best-of-five play-off at London’s Copper Box Arena, with Konta and her team-mates hoping to end a 26-year wait for promotion to Fed Cup World Group II.

It is the fifth time in eight years Britain have reached the play-offs and every previous tie has been away from home, with defeats keeping them in the third tier of women’s team tennis.

This year they earned their place with victory in February’s round-robin event in Bath, where Konta battled fatigue and needed to be helped to her feet at the end of her match in the decisive win against Serbia.

“The home support lends you energy when you need it,” Konta, 27, told BBC Sport.

“You really feed off their emotions and their desires for you. It is also the team you have behind you.”

Konta’s world ranking has dropped from 23 to 46 in the past 12 months but she made changes to her coaching team in November and reaped the rewards with a determined performance in Bath.

“Overall, I feel good about the work I am putting in with my own team,” she said. “I am enjoying my tennis and enjoying my life so it’s a good position to be in.”

Who is playing and what is the format?

GB captain Anne Keothavong has named the country’s top five players in her team, with Konta and British number two Katie Boulter expected to feature in the singles.

There are two singles rubbers on Saturday (from 13:30 BST), with two reverse singles and a doubles match on Sunday (from 12:00).

If the tie is settled after three singles matches, the fourth singles is not played but the dead doubles rubber is. If the tie is settled after four singles, the dead doubles is also still played.

The teams are relatively evenly matched on paper with Kazakhstan led by world number 38 Yuliya Putintseva and Zarina Diyas, who is ranked 107th.

But Britain have a greater depth to their squad, with Heather Watson, Harriet Dart and Katie Swan all ranked in the top 200.

Kazakhstan, meanwhile, have named only four players, picking world number 372 Anna Danilina and doubles player Galina Voskoboeva in addition to Putintseva and Diyas.

A revamped Fed Cup Finals – featuring 12 teams – could be up and running as early as next April.

A win against Kazakhstan would almost certainly guarantee Britain’s involvement in this new format.

Great Britain team Ranking Age Fed Cup appearances
Katie Boulter 86 22 6
Harriet Dart 134 22 2
Johanna Konta 46 27 23
Katie Swan 173 20 5
Heather Watson 118 26 31

GB ‘not talking about’ past heartbreak

Anne Keothavong talks to Johanna Konta and Heather Watson in last year's Fed Cup play-off

This is the third consecutive year Great Britain have reached this stage, with last year’s efforts ending in a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat by Japan after Konta and Watson had been a set up in the deciding doubles match.

“I’m sure eventually we will take our chance. We will give it our best,” said Watson.

“We don’t talk much about the past. We just talk about the future.”

Watson, overtaken by Boulter as British number two earlier this year, will also want to put behind her the disappointment of missing February’s Europe/Africa Zone round-robin event with flu.

“I was the most ill I’ve been in my life. It was dreadful,” she said. “I had a temperature, I was vomiting, I was coughing – I even damaged a rib from coughing too much.

“I was there but I was bed-bound the whole time. I just hoped that each day I could get better so I could go and even just support. It was a shame because I have played in the Fed Cup for so many years and this was the first time it was at home. I was really sad to miss it.

“I will at least be courtside this time around and will hopefully get to play because that would be really special to play at home.”

‘I live for the big moments’ – Boulter

Katie Boulter

Boulter enjoyed a dream Fed Cup singles debut in Bath, winning all of her rubbers in a performance Konta described as “exceptional”.

The 22-year-old now has her sights on improving her ranking and one day becoming British number one.

“It is great to have that healthy competition within the team,” she told BBC Sport. “We are all fighting for that place and that chance to show that we are working hard to do the best that we can. It’s good for Jo and it’s good for Heather and all the other girls coming up.”

Boulter says she was not fazed by the pressure of playing the opening match in every tie in Bath and wants to do the same in London.

“I am somebody who likes to get the crowd going and show emotion. I live for the big moments,” she said. “Hopefully I can get a lot of support. It’s a good start for everybody and it worked well in Bath so hopefully we can keep the winning formula.”

‘Team can be strong role models’

Andy Murray

With former men’s world number one Andy Murray’s retirement imminent, there will be a big gap to fill in British tennis.

And Keothavong believes there is an opportunity for her players to become strong role models like the three-time Grand Slam champion.

“The players we have on the Fed Cup team deserve the attention they get and more,” she said. “They are not Grand Slam champions yet, like Andy, but there is lots of potential.

“There is the appetite for women’s tennis and it’s important we have strong role models in this country. Every member of the Fed Cup team can be a strong role model for any young tennis player aspiring to do what they are doing.”

She also hopes playing a tie in her native east London, which has never hosted a Fed Cup or Davis Cup tie, will open up the sport to a new audience.

Konta agreed, adding: “We are all really looking forward to the fact we are playing at home again. We have not had to travel across the world at this time of the year, which is a new experience for us.

“It really does help you in tough situations.”

How much do you know about GB’s opponents?

French Open: Dan Evans joins Kyle Edmund & Cameron Norrie in men’s singles main draw

Dan Evans playing at the French Open in 2017

Britain’s Dan Evans has earned a place in the main draw at next month’s French Open at Roland Garros.

He is joined by compatriots Kyle Edmund and Cameron Norrie in the draw for the men’s singles, while Britons Johanna Konta and Katie Boulter are entered into the women’s singles.

It is the first time in two years that the world number 89 has made the main draw by ranking.

Evans, 28, returned from a one-year ban for taking cocaine 12 months ago.

He has only once before played in the first round of the French Open, in 2017, when he was beaten by Spain’s Tommy Robredo.

Edmund reached the third round in 2018, while Norrie exited in the second. Two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist Konta has never progressed past the first round, while this year marks Boulter’s debut in the main draw.

The French Open takes place in Paris between 20 May and 9 June.

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Monte Carlo Masters: Cameron Norrie beats Adrian Mannarino in first round

Cameron Norrie

British number two Cameron Norrie reached the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters by beating France’s Adrian Mannarino 6-4 6-3.

The 23-year-old broke early in both sets to win in one hour 19 minutes.

World number 56 Norrie next faces Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics, who beat 12th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Eleven-time champion Rafael Nadal, who had a first-round bye, begins his title defence against fellow Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut on Wednesday.

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Monte Carlo Masters: Kyle Edmund beaten by Diego Schwartzman in first round

Kyle Edmund

British number one Kyle Edmund let an early lead slip as he was beaten in the first round of the Monte Carlo Masters by Diego Schwartzman.

World number 23 Edmund led Argentina’s Schwartzman by a set and 3-0 but ultimately lost 4-6 6-3 6-1.

The 24-year-old won only one of the final 13 games against Schwartzman, who is one place below him in the world rankings.

Schwartzman will face either Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Taylor Fritz next.

There were five breaks of serve in a scrappy opening set before Edmund converted his first set point.

The Briton broke Schwartzman at the first opportunity in the second set but Schwartzman won nine straight games to level the match and take an early third-set lead.

Edmund held serve for 1-3 and had a break point in the next game, but a missed backhand volley allowed Schwartzman to extend his lead.

Schwartzman, who reached the French Open quarter-finals in 2018, went on to serve out victory.

The two will face one another again in the men’s doubles on Tuesday. Edmund and compatriot Neil Skupski are scheduled to play Schwartzman and Joao Sousa of Portugal from 14:00 BST.

British number two Cameron Norrie opens his singles campaign against Adrian Mannarino of France on the same day.

Rafael Nadal also begins his title defence on Tuesday against fellow Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut. The match will be Nadal’s first in over a month after he injured his knee at Indian Wells in March.

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ATP Challenger event returns to Glasgow

Scott Clayton

Glasgow will again host an ATP Challenger event this year, the Lawn Tennis Association has announced.

Singles and doubles events will take place at Scotstoun Sports Campus from 16-22 September.

Last year’s inaugural event was attended by more than 3,000 spectators with Slovakia’s Lukas Lacko winning the singles.

“Some of the best memories have been playing Davis Cup ties at home,” said Scottish doubles player Jamie Murray.

“I am delighted to be working with the LTA and Glasgow Life on the planning and delivery of an ATP Challenger in Scotland later this year.”

Murray, who has played a role in the planning of the event, added: “We hope to make this year’s tournament more successful, providing a platform to inspire more young people in Scotland to take up our sport.

“I look forward to seeing everyone again in September.”

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Norrie loses to world No 372 Tipsarevic in Houston

Cameron Norrie

British number two Cameron Norrie lost 6-3 6-4 to the world number 372 Janko Tipsarevic in the second round of the US Men’s Clay Court Championship.

Norrie, 23, the world number 55, had been seeded third in Houston.

He lost his serve in the first game and was broken three more times in the first set as the Serbian, a former top-10 player, took it in 31 minutes.

Norrie got an early break in the second, but lost serve twice late in the set as Tipsarevic sealed the win.

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Kyle Edmund beaten by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Grand Prix Hassan II in Marrakech

Kyle Edmund

British number one Kyle Edmund is out of the Grand Prix Hassan II in Marrakech after losing to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets in the last 16.

The third seed was beaten 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 in one hour 29 minutes.

The early exit comes a year after Edmund reached the final of the clay court event, his maiden ATP final.

Tsonga has a career-high ranking of fifth in the world but is now ranked 116th, 94 places below Edmund, as he recovers from knee surgery.

The Frenchman will play Italian qualifier Lorenzo Sonego in the quarter-final.

In the men’s doubles, Britain’s Dom Inglot and partner Rohan Bopanna beat Roman Jebavy and Andres Molteni 0-6 6-3 10-8.

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Fed Cup: Great Britain name unchanged team for World Group II play-off

Johanna Konta

Great Britain have named an unchanged team for their Fed Cup World Group II play-off against Kazakhstan, which begins on 20 April.

British number one Johanna Konta is joined by Katie Boulter, Heather Watson, Harriet Dart and Katie Swan.

The British team won all 10 of their rubbers in February’s group stages to reach the play-offs.

If they beat Kazakhstan in London, they will return to World Group II for the first time since 1993.

The tie will take place from 20-21 April at the Copper Box Arena.

“There is little to separate the two teams in terms of rankings, but I’m confident the home fans will give all our players an inspirational lift,” GB captain Anne Keothavong said.

“It’s important to our team to open up our sport to new fans and increase awareness of tennis at different times of the year.”

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