Davis Cup call-up for Delgado as Johansson looms

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The Independent Online

Jamie Delgado was recalled to Britain's Davis Cup team yesterday after an absence of two years. Roger Taylor, Britain's captain, named the 24-year-old from Warwickshire as the fourth man in his squad for next week's tie against Sweden in the first round of the World Group at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham.

Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski, the nation's two world-class players, will be expected to play singles and doubles over the three days of the match, which starts a week on Friday, with Delgado and Martin Lee, the British No 3, prepared to deputise in case of injuries or fatigue.

Delgado last played in the Davis Cup in a defeat by the Czech Republic in Ostrava in February 2000, replacing Rusedski, who was recovering after an operation, in two of the singles matches and partnering Henman in the doubles. That was David Lloyd's last tie as Britain's captain before an acrimonious departure.

Taylor's term began with a humiliating grass-court defeat by Ecuador, 3-2, on Wimbledon's Court No 1, when Arvind Parmar, substituting for the injured Rusedski, lost a two sets to love lead against Giovanni Lapentti in the deciding singles rubber.

Rusedski and Henman combined to make amends last September, defeating Ecuador in the World Group qualifying round on a clay court in Guayaquil. Although Delgado was a contender for the squad in Ecuador, Taylor chose Lee and Barry Cowan, of Lancashire, whose case was helped by the fact that he had taken Pete Sampras to five sets at Wimbledon.

Britain, who have not won a tie in the élite World Group since defeating Spain indoors at Telford in 1986, can expect Sweden to be in good spirits. Their team is led by Thomas Johansson, the newly crowned Australian Open champion, who defeated his compatriot Jonas Bjorkman, Henman's fourth-round conqueror, en route to triumph in Melbourne last Sunday.

Pete Sampras and Andy Roddick were picked for the US Davis Cup team for their first-round match next week against Slovakia. Todd Martin, Mardy Fish and James Blake were also named, although only four players can take part. The US captain, Patrick McEnroe, will have to settle on four players by 7 February, the eve of the tie.

Yesterday, the defending champion, Roger Federer, moved into the second round of the Milan Indoor tournament with a 7-6, 6-3 win over Austria's Stefan Koubek. The Swiss player secured the first set tie break 7-2 before easing through the rest of the contest.

The No 2 seed, who reached the fourth round of the Australian Open earlier this month, faces Russia's Nikolay Davydenko in the second round. Brazil's Andre Sa also booked his place in the second round, fighting back for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Italy's Cristiano Caratti.

In Tokyo, Anna Kournikova beat the Spaniard Cristina Torrens-Valero 6-3, 6-0 in the first round of the Pan Pacific Open. The 20-year-old Russian dropped her serve in the opening game but broke back immediately and went on to dominate the match.

Kournikova, who lost in the first round of the Australian Open earlier this month, demonstrated an improved serve as she dictated the tempo from the baseline, taking just 48 minutes to wrap up the match.