Bogdanovic in Davis Cup squad despite his rankings plunge

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The Independent Online

First the bad news for Alex Bogdanovic. Yesterday's world rankings saw the Briton fall 86 places to No 378, his lowest position for eight years. The good news for the British No 6 was a recall to his country's Davis Cup squad for next week's Europe Africa Zone Group Two tie against Tunisia at Bolton Arena.

If the timing of the 26-year-old's return to national duty was unfortunate, it said everything about the dearth of singles talent available to Leon Smith, the team captain. With Andy Murray opting out of the tie, the only other Briton available to Smith ranked in the world's top 300 was James Ward (No 212). Smith will pick two out of Ward, Bogdanovic and Jamie Baker (No 401) to play singles, while Jamie Murray and Colin Fleming will play doubles.

Bogdanovic, who has received eight wildcards at Wimbledon and not won a match there, has lost all six of his live Davis Cup rubbers. Tunisia should at least offer an opportunity to break his duck: Malek Jaziri is world No 325 in singles but the next highest ranked Tunisian is Wael Kilani, world No 1,200.

Smith said he had confidence in Bogdanovic, who made himself unavailable for Britain's last tie against Turkey after being dropped from the Lawn Tennis Association's "Team Aegon", which provides financial support.

"It didn't suit Alex to play in that tie, but he never said he didn't want to play Davis Cup," Smith said yesterday. "He's very keen to play and very motivated. He's a much better player than his ranking might suggest. He's slipped a bit largely because he hardly played at the end of last year because of a back problem. The autumn has been when he's picked up a lot of his ranking points in the past."

The last time Bogdanovic played for Britain was against Austria in September 2008, which was also the last match to feature Jamie Murray, who recently returned to the world's top 50 in doubles. Jamie Murray used to play regularly with Fleming, whose regular partner, Ross Hutchins, has been overlooked for the Tunisia tie.

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will play their opening matches in the Dubai Duty Free Championships today. Djokovic, who is playing doubles this week with his 19-year-old brother Marko, meets Michael Llodra, while Federer faces a wild card, India's Somdev Devvarman. Djokovic is seeded to meet Tomas Berdych, the world No 7, in the semi-finals. Berdych won his opening match last night against France's Jérémy Chardy 6-2, 6-3.

* Mario Ancic, a former world No 7, is expected to announce his retirement tomorrow. The 26-year-old Croatian has never fully recovered from a bout of glandular fever. Ancic lost to Andy Roddick in the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 2004.