Sunday, 23 April 2017

Great Britain lose to hosts Romania in Fed Cup tie

Great Britain on Sunday lost their Fed Cup World Cup Group II play-off in Romania, consigning them back to the Europe/Africa Zone.

It was 1-1 after Saturday’s play, when host captain Ilie Nastase was banned for swearing at the umpire, Johanna Konta and her captain Anne Keothavong.

On Sunday, Simon Halep won 6-1 6-3 against Konta to put Romania in front.

Irina-Camelia Begu then beat Heather Watson 6-4 7-5 as Romania took an unassailable lead before the doubles.

Konta was left in tears after Nastase’s conduct and, even though the world number seven still beat Sorana Cirstea on Saturday, she found Halep a tougher test.

Halep, ranked fifth in the world, raced into a 4-0 lead as she made the most of her clay-court knowhow and broke to love in taking the first set in 27 minutes.

Konta gave signs of a comeback by breaking Halep and taking a 3-1 lead in the second set.

But the Romanian responded by impressively taking five games in a row to win the match.

After that result, world number 113 Watson knew she had to win against 33rd-ranked Begu and she was involved in a tight match with plenty of quality and drama.

There were five breaks of serve in the first set, which Begu took, but none in the second until Watson lost the seventh game.

The Briton broke back but then lost her serve again at 5-5 and Begu served out for a match that lasted two hours and two minutes to secure victory for Romania.

Cirstea claimed Konta had “overreacted” by crying in their match but the British number one has defended her actions. The incident that led to Nastase being dismissed on Saturday happened when Cirstea was 2-1 up in the second set.

After Konta and Keothavong had complained of calling out from the crowd at 1-1, former world number one Nastase was involved in a discussion with officials.

During this, he used foul language before verbally abusing the British player and her captain.

He was sent off the court by referee Andreas Egli and, after initially taking a seat in the stands, was then escorted back to the locker room.

Konta went 3-1 down after her serve was broken in the next game and was in tears before the umpire suspended play for about 25 minutes.

“With all due respect to Sorana, she was not in my shoes at that end of the court being verbally threatened,” said the Briton. “Any abuse is not all right.

“But when it’s a couple of metres away from you, screaming at you, I think that’s a different ball game.

“It’s not something that you truly know how it affects you until you experience it, so I do believe she may have been slightly unaware of the events that happened.”

Halep defended the crowd following her win on Sunday and, on Nastase — whose conduct is being investigated by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), said “maybe he did mistakes”.

“I was not there right on the court but I heard some things so I cannot defend anything here,” she added.

“I don’t know exactly what happened but the people from ITF, they will know what they’re going to do.”

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