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Romania vs Great Britain Fed Cup news, matches and results: Top-10 players Simona Halep, Johanna Konta highlight World Group II play-off tie

Hannah Wilks in Fed Cup 22 Apr 2017
  • Simona Halep and Johanna Konta star in the World Group II play-off clash between Great Britain and Romania
  • Great Britain are trying to make it out of the zonal groups for the first time since 1993
  • Romania vs Great Britain Fed Cup World Group II play-off tennis is live from Constanta, 22-23 April 2017
  • Watch and bet on tennis live from Constanta at bet365 > live streaming > tennis
Johanna Konta leads Great Britain's team as they face Romania in Constanta in the Fed Cup World Group II play-off tie, 22-23 April 2017 (Photo by Getty Images for LTA)

World no. 5 Simona Halep and world no. 7 Johanna Konta star in this Fed Cup World Group II play-off tie between Romania and Great Britain: Latest news, results, fixtures and analysis from Romania vs Great Britain! 

Romania vs Great Britain Fed Cup tennis is live from Constanta from 22-23 April. Watch and bet on tennis live from Constanta at bet365 > live streaming > tennis

Great Britain, one of only four nations to have played every year of the Fed Cup since the competition’s inception, are trying to make it back to the global groups of the competition for the first time since 1993.

Should Great Britain beat Romania in Constanta, they will advance to the World Group II in 2018 and have a chance to then play for promotion to the World Group – and with world no. 7 Johanna Konta in her best form yet after winning the Miami Open, new captain Anne Keothavong will be hopeful.

Great Britain are still heavy underdogs, however, with world no. 5 Simona Halep leading the home side as they hope to turn around a poor run of form. Great Britain can only boast one top-100 player, while Romanian captain Ilie Nastase has four ranked inside the top 70.


Romania vs Great Britain Fed Cup match schedule

Rubber #3: Simona Halep (ROU) vs Johanna Konta (GBR), Sunday 23 April (11am local/9am BST)
What should have been a showcase for women's tennis in Simona Halep's home town of Constanta, with two top-10 players competing, has been marred by Saturday's ugly scenes involving Romanian Fed Cup captain Ilie Nastase and it remains to be seen how the tie will develop on Sunday with the two teams level at 1-1.

Nastase was ejected from the court and subsequently banned by the ITF for the duration of the tie after profane abuse directed at Johanna Konta, British captain Anne Keothavong and match officials, and his behaviour threatens to cast a shadow over Sunday's reverse singles and potential deciding doubles.

Halep and Konta on Friday (Getty Images)
Halep and Konta both impressed on Saturday, the former hitting her stride after a bright start from Heather Watson to record a straight-sets win and the latter recovering her composure after being reduced to tears in the second set, reeling off five straight games to close out the match.

World no. 7 Konta owns a 2-0 head-to-head against world no. 5 Halep, beating her in three sets in Wuhan back in 2015 and, more pertinently, 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-2 in a close Miami Open encounter just a couple of weeks ago.

But that doesn't necessarily mean Konta has the advantage coming into Sunday's clash. Halep was still working her way back from a five-week break due to knee tendonitis in that Miami encounter and the Romanian looked much more self-assured on Saturday. Moreover, this will be their first meeting on clay, which is one of Halep's strongest surfaces if not her strongest - she has won the Mutua Madrid Open and finished runner-up at the French Open in 2014. 

Then there is the crowd, who are surely guaranteed to be particularly hostile to the British contingent on Sunday and have already shown indications of targeting Konta in particular because of her Hungarian background, and the question of who will stand up better psychologically to the demands of what has become an incredibly challenging Fed Cup tie for all concerned.

Rubber #4: Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) vs Heather Watson (GBR), Sunday 23 April (1pm local/11am BST)
Irina-Camelia Begu was replaced by Sorana Cirstea at the last minute on Saturday with the latter suffering from a stiff neck, and it remains to be seen whether it's Begu or Cirstea - or even Monica Niculescu, although she is more likely to be substituting for Nastase in the captain's role - who takes the court to face Watson in the fourth rubber, in which one team will have the opportunity to clinch the tie, based on the result of the Konta-Halep match. 

Sorana Cirstea (Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images)
Begu had an absolutely superb clay season in 2016, beating Eugenie Bouchard and Garbine Muguruza to make the quarterfinals of the Mutua Madrid Open, then going on to reach the semifinals of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome, beating Victoria Azarenka on the way, and the round of 16 at Roland Garros. She even comes into this play-off on the back of a clay quarterfinal (on the green clay of Charleston, but still). She also won easily the only time she played against Watson, so if she is fit, she would be an excellent selection.

Cirstea lost in straight sets to Konta but is a former French Open quarterfinalist and an excellent clay-court player herself. An out-and-out power player, her goal would be to hit through Watson's tenacious defense - something she did with great success the last time they met, beating Watson 6-1, 6-1 at the US Open in 2014, although Watson still leads the overall head-to-head 2-1.

Rubber #5: Sorana Cirstea/Monica Niculescu (ROU) vs Jocelyn Rae/Laura Robson (GBR), Sunday 23 April (3pm local/1pm BST)
Should the tie come down to a deciding doubles rubber, it's likely that nominations for both teams might change. 

Great Britain's only doubles specialist is Jocelyn Rae, who is 9-3 in Fed Cup doubles, but it could well be Watson who takes the court alongside her with Laura Robson still very much on the comeback trail after her lengthy injury lay-off due to wrist problems.

Monica Niculescu is the only member of either team with a top-100 doubles ranking. The Romanian with the gorgeously tricky game is world no. 23 in doubles and has a 15-9 record in Fed Cup doubles, and her presence alongside Halep, Cirstea or Begu would make Romania definite favourites in this rubber.

Latest Romania vs Great Britain Fed Cup results

Romania 1-1 Great Britain
A dramatic first day in Constanta leaves hosts and visitors tied at 1-1 with all concerned feeling some trepidation about how Sunday's events will unfold.

Saturday started innocuously enough with Simona Halep, the world no. 5 and a superstar in Romania - particularly in her hometown of Constanta - overcoming a bright start from Heather Watson to claim the first rubber for Romania, 6-4, 6-1. Watson recovered an early break and fought hard, but Halep, who was playing her first clay-court match of 2017, started to really find her stride at 3-4, winning the next three games to take the first set with a clean forehand winner. She continued to step up the aggression and the gulf in class between her transition game and Watson's really started to show in the second set, with the British player swiftly falling away.

'I was a little nervous because I was home playing an official match after 10 years but she was feeling the wind and the game pretty well at the beginning but then I wanted to run forward but then I started to dominate and I managed to dominate the match,' Halep said.

With Romania leading 1-0, Sorana Cirstea took the court to face world no. 7 Johanna Konta. Cirstea replaced Irina-Camelia Begu, the original nomination, who was benched due to a stiff neck. Konta, playing her first match since winning the biggest title of her career at the Premier Mandatory-level Miami Open, took the first set 6-2 but things got ugly early in the second set when Romanian captain Nastase was sent first to the stands, and then ejected from the court after 'serious misconduct', including profane abuse directed at Konta, British captain Anne Keothavong and match officials. Cirstea broke for 3-1 in the second set, but an overwrought Konta started to cry and the match was suspended for around 20 minutes. On Konta's return, she won five straight games to level the tie with a 6-2, 6-3 win.

'The incident has slightly left me unnerved but I love the sport and that's why I'm here, to play... The abusive language of everybody there who was involved, snowballed... I think it got out of hand more than anything and I think that for tomorrow, we are 1-1 in the tie and both our team and the Romanian team, us players, we are here to compete and I'm sure I can speak for them when we say we just want to go out and compete,' Konta said.

The teams

Team Romania: Simona Halep, Monica Niculescu, Irina-Camelia Begu, Sorana Cirstea, Ilie Nastase (captain)

Team Great Britain: Johanna Konta, Heather Watson, Laura Robson, Jocelyn Rae, Anne Keothavong (captain)

Both Romania and Great Britain are looking to the leadership of a top-10 player – but the home side can boast a much deeper bench in support of their star, Simona Halep.

World no. 5 Halep hasn’t had the 2017 season she would have wished with a knee injury troubling her for much of the first two months, although she showed some decent form when she returned for Indian Wells and Miami. The former French Open runner-up will be gearing up for a major assault on the clay-court season but first hopes to lead Romania to victory in Constanta – she has a 12-5 record in Fed Cup singles, but often struggles against other top-10 players (Konta has won both their previous meetings).

Halep is supported by top-50 players Irina-Camelia Begu and Monica Niculescu, and the inconsistent but tremendously powerful Sorana Cirstea, currently ranked world no. 61. Konta on the other hand comes into this tie at a career-high world no. 7 after winning her biggest title yet at the Miami Open,  and continues to go from strength to strength, but her teammate Heather Watson is now ranked outside the top 100, Laura Robson has never really recovered from her wrist injury and Jocelyn Rae is solely useful as a doubles specialist. It will take a big team performance from Great Britain to overcome these odds in Constanta.

Fed Cup format

Fed Cup ties are played over the best of five rubbers over two days. Two singles rubbers are played on Saturday, followed by the reverse singles rubbers on Sunday with the tie going to a deciding doubles rubber if necessary.

Player nominations can be changed up until an hour before the start of play.

One nation hosts the tie, with the choice of ground decided by where the two competing teams played last time. Romania hosts Great Britain on the outdoor clay courts of Constanta.  

The winner of the Romania vs Great Britain World Group II play-off tie will compete in the eight-nation World Group II in 2018.

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Romania vs Great Britain Fed Cup news, matches and results: Top-10 players Simona Halep, Johanna Konta highlight World Group II play-off tie

Great Britain, led by world no. 7 Johanna Konta, are heavy underdogs as they try to make it out of the Fed Cup zones for the first time since 1993: Romania vs Great Britain Fed Cup tennis live

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