Great Britain beaten by Slovakia to miss out on Fed Cup Finals in Hungary
Heather Watson won Saturday's opener to keep tie alive, but Dart's defeat consigns GB to a play-off in April
Last Updated: 08/02/20 8:49pm
Great Britain missed out on a place in the new-look Fed Cup Finals after Harriet Dart's defeat gave Slovakia an unassailable 3-1 lead in Bratislava.
Without British no 1 Johana Konta, Anne Keothavong's side were left at the point of no-return after both Watson and Dart suffered defeats on Friday evening, leaving the hosts just one win away from a place in the 12-team line-up in Budapest.
It again fell to Watson to lead the team off and she responded with a 6-0 7-5 victory over Rebecca Sramkova in the first of Saturday's reverse singles to reduce the arrears.
Sramkova was called in as a replacement for Viktoria Kuzmova after she was ruled out through illness. Watson was in no mood to mess around, racing through the first set in just 26 minutes against the world No 202.
Watson was made to work harder in the second set before eventually prevailing and handing on to Dart, who had battled so bravely in a three-set defeat to Kuzmova on Friday.
Despite that near three-hour epic, where she saved five match points, Dart showed no signs of tiredness and displayed her fighting qualities once again. She rallied from an early break down to level against former world no 26 Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.
However Schmiedlova broke in the 12th game to claim the set, and then needed just a solitary break on the second set to edge a hard-fought contest 7-5 6-3.
That leftl Slovakia to celebrate the win and an unassailable 3-1 lead that sees them join the field in Hungary in April, while GB are left to wait for the play-off draw.
Britain will need to win their play-off tie in April to earn another chance to reach the finals in 2021, while a defeat would send them back to the Europe/Africa Zone.