Britain face tough tie with Slovakia
The equation is simple. If Andy Murray plays, Britain will have a fighting chance of competing for a place in the Davis Cup's elite World Group next September. If the world No 4 does not play, they face a battle to avoid returning to Europe Africa Zone Group Two, effectively the cup's third division.
Yesterday's draw for next year's Group One first round in February gave Britain a home tie – at a venue to be decided – against Slovakia. The prize will be a home tie against Belgium on 6-8 April, the winners to go into a play-off for promotion to the World Group.
Slovakia, who lost to Croatia in the final just six years ago, beat Britain 5-0 in Bratislava in 1995 in their only previous meeting. They typify the step up in class facing Britain after their return to Group One. Leon Smith's team won promotion last weekend by beating Hungary, whose highest ranked player was the world No 262. Slovakia have three players ranked higher in singles than the British No 2, James Ward (world No 157), and two higher in doubles than Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins, Britain's leading pair.
With home advantage, Britain would be marginal favourites if Murray plays. But the tie begins just 12 days after the Australian Open, where the Scot has twice reached the final. He pulled out of a tie in Argentina on the equivalent weekend three years ago.
By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen
New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning
New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain
Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy
Manchester City vs Manchester United combined XI: No place for Yaya Toure... or any United defenders
Sami Khedira transfer news: Arsenal can win the Premier League if they sign Khedira in January, says Perry Groves
Manchester City vs Manchester United analysis: Manuel Pellegrini has no excuse for City's lack of a Plan B, writes Danny Higginbotham
Chelsea injury list: Loic Remy lead the Blues' absent players while Diego Costa is set to return
Radamel Falcao: Manchester United ready to seal permanent transfer of striker as 'everything is complete' to extend his Old Trafford stay
- 2 Topshop at centre of row over body image as 'shocking' skinny mannequin photo goes viral
- 3 Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson criticised for beer tweet
- 4 The bubble bursts for Sodastream
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Maureen Lipman says 'she can't vote Labour while Ed Miliband is leader'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything