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The Great Britain (GB) tennis team surprised the nation by beating 32-time Davis Cup champions – the USA – in the first round of the world group tie at the end of January. Crucially this is the first time Team GB has found their place in the quarterfinals of tennis’ premier team event, for nearly 30 years. Remarkable performances from James Ward and (as expected) Andy Murray secured history, sealing a 3-1 away victory.
With a couple of months to prepare for Italy, at the start of April, attention turns to the possibility of unparalleled further achievement in a tournament that is slowly developing as a realistic opportunity for Team GB. However, history is not on their side having last clinched the trophy in 1936 – not that that will phase record breaker Murray.
Italy have won nine of the last ten meetings with GB’s side but having not met each other for 20 years, perhaps now is the time for the record books to be re-wrote.
Murray, who is currently the World No.6 ranked player, is somebody who is heavily relied upon to initiate the team’s success. Without him they are significantly weakened, obviously by losing an outstanding player as well as the inevitable knock-on mental effects his absence would have on his compatriots. Behind him Ward who is currently ranked 137th has held the responsibility on his shoulders after defeating Querry in the first rubber. However the distinct lack of ability to prop Murray up is something to be worried about.
In contrast the Italian team they shall face comprises of players all within the top 50 of the world. Fabio Fognini (World No. 14) and Andreas Seppi (World No. 31) notably will provide a challenge to GB’s lower order in particular. This added to the fact Italy shall be playing at home on a surface Fognini and Seppi enjoy -clay – all stack up against the resurgent British side.
A reliance on the GB doubles could come to the forefront should Ward struggle in his singles event. Dominic Inglot, Jamie Murray and Colin Fleming are all specialist doubles players who could provide the key to success for GB. Despite a loss in four sets to the Bryan brothers in round one, without J.Murray, the doubles pairing can expect to face weaker opponents in Italy. Therefore the doubles tie could prove very important, as scheduled as the middle fixture could provide the lift for the singles to carry GB through to the semifinals.
In conclusion, the fans and team GB should be proud of their performances up to this stage of the competition. It is important to remember the fact that they were still playing in the Europe/African Zone group II three years ago and now they are in contention in the World Group. As the saying goes, Rome was not built in a day; it will take time for team GB to rebuild to a position of real threat. Should they defeat Italy in April an even tougher tie against one of the competition’s contenders, Switzerland, would probably stand in their way of success this year. What is for sure is that the leading figure of the team – Murray – will need to be involved this April to propel the team to further success. Crucially, the responsibility of Murray to be able to build the team around gives a great boost to everyone involved in team GB on top of making the team a real force to be reckoned with.