sport

Murray targets World Group spot

Judy Murray believes her Fed Cup team have a fighting chance of advancing to the World Group for the first time in 20 years.

Great Britain open their 2013 campaign on Wednesday in Eilat, Israel with a Europe/Africa Pool B fixture against Bosnia-Herzegovina before clashes with Portugal and Hungary.

Should they top the pool and then come through a weekend meeting with the winners of Pool D, they will move into a World Group II play-off in April.

They got to that stage last year only to lose 4-1 to Sweden.

Fast forward 10 months and team captain Murray believes they are well placed to go one better and take their place in the top 16 nations in the world.

She said: "Elena (Baltacha) and Annie (Keothavong) headed up the singles last year and did an unbelievable job out here to get us out of the group.

"The younger members of the squad - Laura (Robson) and Heather (Watson) - have had a very exciting 12 months, they have pushed their ranking inside the top 50 and they are getting towards the top 40 which is a fabulous achievement.

"It means there is a slightly different dynamic in the team with regards the singles rankings.

"It puts us in a very strong position, the team is fighting fit and I think we are ready to fight for a place in the World Group.

"We have a great blend of youth and experience. It's a great platform and opportunity for us to move forward."

Murray was also delighted by a draw which means not only have her side avoided Poland - and world number four Agnieszka Radwanska - in the pool phase but also a possible weekend play-off.

She added: "The draw has probably been quite kind to us.

"There are a number of teams we had hoped to avoid and we have avoided them. Not just in the pool phase.

"With the format being just two singles and one doubles, if you come up against a team with a very strong number one like Poland it is a very hard obstacle to overcome."

Another boost is the schedule which means Britain will play their matches in the morning calm - unlike last year.

"The conditions are quite different in the morning compared to the afternoon," Murray said.

"In the morning it is relatively calm and pretty warm. Later in the afternoon is when the wind gets up a little bit - it's very strong between 5pm and 6pm and it can also get cold.

"We can get our matches out of the way and then study video footage of our next day's opponents.

"It will suit us better than last year when we were starting at 5pm and not getting back to the hotel until late. Also having to play in cold and windy conditions was not ideal."

An early finish will also allow the players to further hone their board game skills, something which has helped foster a strong team bond.

Keothavong said: "It's very important we get on well. We have a great team atmosphere. Last year proved it and it's so nice we are back together and we have that bond again."

Murray added: "A big part of our success last year was the fact we had so much fun on and off the court and we have carried that on.

"We have a great time in the evening. We have a lot of fun and it is absolutely crucial that we all enjoy being with each other. We have a great team spirit."