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The Telegraph

Weakened Great Britain team wary of Mexico banana skin in Billie Jean King Cup tie

The last time Great Britain took on Mexico in a tennis fixture, it turned into a debacle. Andrew Castle predicted a crushing victory before a 1987 Davis Cup tie in Mexico City, only for him and team-mate Jeremy Bates to lose all five rubbers. Today is the women’s turn, and the British captain, Anne Keothavong, can be grateful the match is not being played at altitude in Central America — as originally scheduled — but instead in the rather more familiar surroundings of Roehampton’s National Tennis Centre. The Mexicans have forfeited their best chance in this tie. Home advantage would have been useful, especially as the British team have not won a World Group play-off on the road for almost 30 years. But the Mexican Tennis Federation was struggling to elect a president last year, let alone organise a Billie Jean King Cup tie with appropriate levels of biosecurity. So, the venue reverted to south-west London, and as Keothavong put it yesterday: “We are the favourites. There’s no skirting around that.” As in 1987, the Mexican players are not familiar faces. Marcela Zacarias, their No 1 singles player, is ranked 285th and has yet to win a tour-level match in a decade-long career. Giuliana Olmos, who backs up Zacarias, stands at No 434 and has just a single scalp to her name. But Britain are short of their full strength, after British No 1 Johanna Konta opted to prioritise her individual career. Also missing is Fran Jones, the Leeds 20-year-old who defies a congenital condition affecting her fingers and toes. In recent weeks, Jones has been playing a kind of tennis hopscotch after entering two events in Argentina — a red-list country, according to Covid protocols.