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BBC Sport – Great Britain were unable to secure their place in the Billie Jean King Cup finals as Harriet Dart and Katie Swan lost the decisive doubles match against the Czech Republic.
With the best-of-five tie locked at 2-2, Czech pair Marketa Vondrousova and Karolina Muchova sealed victory with a 6-1 7-5 win on the Prague clay.
Earlier, Dart beat Linda Fruhvirtova 6-0 5-7 6-2 to keep the tie alive. That came after British number one Emma Raducanu lost 6-1 6-1 to Vondrousova.
US Open champion Raducanu was unable to cope with 2019 French Open runner-up Vondrousova’s excellent clay-court game and the 19-year-old Briton was also hampered by a blister on her foot.
With Raducanu sitting out the crucial doubles, Dart played alongside British number six Swan.
The pair fought back from 4-1 down to 4-4 in the second set, but were unable to force a decider as Muchova and Vondrousova – who dropped just nine games on the way to winning all three of her matches in the tie – took control once again.
The Czech pair won the deciding doubles to clinch a 3-2 victory for their nation and ensure they qualify for November’s 12-team finals.
Britain, who had a new-look team in the absence of recently-retired Johanna Konta and the unavailable Heather Watson, will face a play-off tie during the same week.
However, Britain are among the countries bidding to stage the finals and could also still qualify as the host nation.
Raducanu hampered by more physical problems
Captain Anne Keothavong’s team were the huge underdogs going into the tie, with the hosts having a depth of talent and great pedigree in this event.
Even without big-name trio Barbora Krejcikova, Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova, the Czechs were in a strong position after Raducanu lost to Vondrousova in Saturday’s first singles rubber.
Raducanu, playing in only her second senior clay-court match after beating Tereza Martincova on Friday, was aiming to put Britain into the lead for the first time and give the momentum to her young side.
But the world number 12 came up against a wily opponent in Vondrousova, who is a natural on the surface and has proved that with her results.
Raducanu was unable to cope with her opponent’s variety and court-craft in a one-sided first set, which lasted just 26 minutes.
The Briton needed to go off court before the start of the second set for treatment on a blister on her right foot and struggled to move properly when the match resumed.
Vondrousova, ranked 32nd in the world, moved 2-0 ahead but then seemed unsettled by Raducanu’s lack of movement and lost concentration.
Raducanu was gifted a break back, only for the Czech to refocus and win the next four games to seal victory in 62 minutes.