This week Great Britain’s tennis stars will travel to Umag, Croatia for a world group play-off encounter with the Croats in the Davis Cup. It’s their first chance to return to the World Group since 2008.
GB’s captain, Leon Smith, named a four-man squad of Andy Murray, Dan Evans, James Ward and Colin Fleming for the tie. Wimbledon champion Murray is involved for the first time since 2011 and will hopefully be fresh after his quarter-final exit at the US Open, where he admitted he struggled to get fired up after the highs of SW19.
Smith has elected to select one doubles player, Fleming, suggesting that Murray will play in both the singles and the doubles. Fleming and Murray recently made the final of the Montreal Masters last month so are clearly a more than capable pairing. Wimbledon 2012 doubles winner, Jonny Marray, has been left out but could still travel in case of any injuries.
Evans will be full of confidence after his excellent showing at the US Open and even his last display in this competition, which reminded him of his capability on the big stage. In Britain’s last tie, staged in Coventry, the home side made a notable comeback from two matches down to win the tie 3-2. After losing the first rubber to Dmitry Tursunov in five sets, Evans came back to win the deciding match and clinch the tie.
Marin Cilic is a notable absentee for Croatia due to investigations over a positive drug test. The world number 19 is the nation’s highest-ranked player, making him a huge blow to their chances of progressing. Ivan Dodig is their main threat, ranked at the world’s 38th best in singles and the 27th best in doubles. Borna Coric is included in their squad following his boys’ singles win at the US Open. In the Davis Cup rankings, the country are 11th – whereas Britain are 30th.
The tie will be staged on clay, which, as it’s known, isn’t Andy Murray’s favourite surface but he should have the qualities to triumph against the lower-ranked singles opponents.
I’m sure Britain will be hugely buoyed by the world number three’s inclusion in the team. It’ll be an interesting tie, and, based on the exploits of Coventry and Murray’s inclusion, it’s certainly a winnable one.
The showdown will take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Good luck to the team.
– Nathan Morley