Lloyd accepts the challenge of Davis Cup captaincy

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The Independent Online

John Lloyd has been appointed Great Britain's new Davis Cup captain by the Lawn Tennis Association. The former British No 1 replaces Jeremy Bates, who resigned after two years in charge following last month's defeat by Israel.

The 51-year-old Lloyd's first task will be to select a team for the relegation play-off against Ukraine next month. "This is a proud moment for me," he said. "It was an honour to play Davis Cup and an even greater honour to captain the team," he said. "I'm delighted to be a part of the new vision for British tennis."

Lloyd, who will report directly to the LTA's chief executive, Roger Draper, faces a major challenge. Bates stood down after only two wins from six matches. Britain have lost to both Serbia & Montenegro and Israel this year and they rely heavily on Andy Murray now Tim Henman has retired from the Davis Cup. They must beat Ukraine in Odessa next month to avoid dropping into Euro-African Zone Group II.

Murray recently backed Lloyd's credentials, saying, "John is a very good player in his own right. He's commentating so he knows what a lot of the players play like and I get on well with him. We've had good fun when we've been together."

On court, Murray beat David Ferrer on Tuesday night 6-2, 7-6, despite a second-set wobble in which he squandered a 5-0 advantage against the world No 13, to set up last night's scheduled meeting with Henman in the Rogers Cup in Toronto.

Murray reached the final in Washington last week as his relationship with his new coach, Brad Gilbert, got off to a promising start.

The 19-year-old said Gilbert was reasonably pleased with his display against Ferrer. "Well, he was happy that I got through," the Scot said. "He was a little bit disappointed that I didn't close the match out. But he was happy with the way that I fought in the tie-break."

At 2-1, Murray raced into a 0-40 lead on the Ferrer serve, but failed to capitalise on the break points as the Spaniard held. In Ferrer's next service game the Scot again took command, but after two further break chances went begging he seized the initiative at the sixth attempt to go 4-2 up.

Once more Murray was safe on serve and had three more break points in the eighth game. Murray's confidence was high as his 24-year-old opponent struggled to settle in the second set and two breaks of serve helped him into a 5-0 lead. Ferrer won the sixth game and after saving one match point he broke to cut the gap to 5-2.

Ferrer staved off another match point before he held for 5-3, and broke again to close within one game. He held for 5-5 and then missed a break point to go ahead, Murray hanging on. The tie-break was predictably tight, but Murray edged it to set up the duel with Henman.