It has not been the best of summers for John Lloyd, Britain's Davis Cup captain. Andy Murray, his leading player, has hardly played because of his damaged wrist; Tim Henman, having been tempted out of Davis Cup retirement earlier this year, has been dragged down by the back problem which will lead to his quitting the game next month; Jamie Murray has split from his regular doubles partner; and the next rank of British men have made little impact at the Grand Slam tournaments.
Lloyd yesterday named his team for next month's World Group play-off against Croatia at Wimbledon – the two Murrays will line up alongside Henman and Jamie Baker – and will be heartened by the news that Mario Ancic is doubtful for the tie. Croatia's best grass-court player injured his shoulder playing in New Haven last week and pulled out of his first-round match against Novak Djokovic in the US Open.
It adds to a year of woe for Ancic, who was out for six months with glandular fever and has failed to progress beyond the second round of the three tournaments he has played since returning this month. The 23-year-old was a mainstay of the team alongside Ivan Ljubicic when Croatia won the Davis Cup for the first time two years ago.
The second singles place may now go to Ivo Karlovic, whose huge serve could be a major weapon at Wimbledon, but the world No 30 is in dispute with his national federation over money. Marin Cilic, the world No 116, who beat Henman at Queen's Club in June, would be the obvious alternative.
Alex Bogdanovic, the British No 3, and Richard Bloomfield, the No 5, will train with Lloyd's squad as they prepare for the tie. Lloyd said he would have named Bogdanovic as the fourth member of his team ahead of Baker but for an injury that forced him to retire three games into his first qualifying match in the US Open.
"Bogdanovic is unlucky," Lloyd said. "He's had this wretched rib and back injury and hasn't won a match since then. He's been basically playing at 80 per cent most of the time and it looks like he might have to have a couple of weeks off. He's in the six, but I'm not going to name him for obvious reasons. He may not even be fit to play anyway. I spoke to him and he understands that."
Baker, the British No 4 and world No 231, impressed Lloyd with his attitude and hard work when he was part of the captain's first squad last year, when Britain avoided relegation by beating Ukraine in Odessa.Reuse content