Davis Cup: Murray to lead Great Britain, Serbia without Djokovic
Paris: Andy Murray will lead Great Britain against France at The Queen's Club as Serbia travel to Argentina without Wimbledon champion Novak Djokavic in Davis Cup World Group quarter-final action starting on Friday.
Andy Murray. Pic/AFP
Murray, the world number three, will be looking for a lift after his Wimbledon semi-final exit to Roger Federer as Great Britain host France a few kilometres away in West London's Queen's Club from July 17-19. Britain will be bidding to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 1981 where they will play either Australia or Kazakhstan, who clash in Darwin.
Murray, who lifted a fourth Queen's Club title before Wimbledon, will be joined on his favoured grass surface by James Ward, who reached the third round at Wimbledon, Dom Inglot and brother Jamie, who lost in the men's doubles final on Saturday. France have a talented lineup in world number 11 to 13-ranked players, Gilles Simon, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet, alongside doubles specialist Nicolas Mahut.
The French have won the Davis Cup nine times, most recently in 2001, and are joint-third in the all-time list with Britain, who have not triumphed since 1936. France captain Arnaud Clement said the team had been boosted by good performances at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. Gasquet fell in the semi-finals at SW19 to Djokovic, with Simon reaching the quarter-finals at the All England Club for the first time.
"They had a good Roland Garros, now a good Wimbledon. The guys are in good form. In terms of confidence it's the best we could have hoped for," said Clement ahead of the first Franco-British clash since 1992. "I think Andy is a good guy to bring in all the other guys to a good level," warned Tsonga, who reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 2011 and 2012. "Today they have a great team. He has got his brother (Jamie Murray), he has James Ward and a few other guys.
"They play good tennis, they play at home, so for sure they will be a good team." - Kyrgios in spotlight - In Darwin, Australia also play their first quarter-finals since 2006 on grass against Kazakhstan. Australia's top-ranked player Bernard Tomic has been banned following a rant about Tennis Australia, with Wally Masur's side spearheaded by 20-year-old Nick Kyrgios.
Kyrgios has been declared fit after a thigh-injury scare, and will be joined by Sam Groth, Thanasi Kokkinakis, and veteran Lleyton Hewitt. Masur said he was sure Kyrgios, ranked 41, would be up to the task. "I probably shouldn't say it, but he's a future Grand Slam winner," Masur said. "He's an amazing player. But you don't just walk into those situations. There's a lot of hard work to be done."
Masur remains wary of a Kazakh side that have made the Davis Cup quarter-finals in four of the past five years. "I'm actually nervous about this tie, because the Kazakhs are really good Davis Cup players," Masur said of his rivals whose top player is 63rd-ranked Mikhail Kukushkin. "They beat Italy in the first round - Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi - pretty significant wins."
In Buenos Aires, world number one Djokovic will be absent as Serbia take on Argentina in a repeat of the 2011 semi-final, which the South Americans won 3-2. Djokovic clinched a third Wimbledon and ninth career grand slam on Sunday, with captain Bogdan Obradovic having named Viktor Troicki, ranked 20, and 96th-ranked Dusan Lajovic along with doubles specialists Janko Tipsarevic and Nenad Zimonjic.
Leonardo Mayer will lead Argentina in the absence of injured duo Juan Monaco and Juan Martin del Potro, bidding for a semi-final place against either Canada or Belgium. Canada will be without their top player Milos Raonic, who is nursing a foot injury, as his side travel to Ostend to play Belgium, who are lead by world number 15 David Goffin.