Tennis: Rusedski and Henman relish chance to join Davis Cup elite

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GREG RUSEDSKI is convinced Britain will reach the World Group of the top 16 Davis Cup nations next year regardless of who they meet when the qualifying round is played in September.

Rusedski, the British No 1, and Tim Henman, the No 2, combined to beat Ukraine 5-0 in Newcastle at the weekend. Now 16 nations go into Thursday's qualifying round draw at Queen's Club in London and Britain, with Rusedski and Henman ranked five and 15 in the world respectively, will be one of the eight seeded nations.

This means that among their possible opponents are India, Romania, Israel, Argentina, Ecuador, Japan and Uzbekistan, none of which will be seeded.

Rusedski said: "I don't mind who we play, home or away, as long as the full team is there. But of course it would be fabulous if we are at home. The Davis Cup is very important to me and to Tim because we have not won it in years and have not been in the World Group since 1992.''

The odds of getting a home draw are not good. If Britain play Romania, Israel or Argentina, all clay-court nations, they would definitely have to travel because the last time they met those three countries they were at home. The only certainty of a home draw would be if they played India, who they last met in Delhi in 1992.

Zimbabwe were celebrating their greatest Davis Cup victory yesterday after brothers Byron and Wayne Black knocked former champions Australia out 24 hours earlier. The Blacks were acclaimed in the capital, Harare, after overturning a 2-1 deficit by winning both reverse singles to win the world group first- round tie in Mildura 3-2. Zimbabwe now face Italy in the quarter-finals in July.