Britain will travel to Lithuania next month with a team lacking any players who have won a live Davis Cup rubber. Following Andy Murray's decision to make himself unavailable for the Europe Africa Zone Group Two tie in Vilnius, the captain, John Lloyd, yesterday named an initial six-man squad notable mainly for its lack of experience.
Jamie Baker, Dan Evans and James Ward are in contention for the two singles slots, with Colin Fleming and Ken Skupski likely to be the doubles pairing, although Ross Hutchins is also in the squad. Skupski and Ward have yet to play in the Davis Cup, while Baker, who won a "dead" rubber against Argentina's Agustin Calleri two years ago, is the only squad member who has ever won a match for his country. The squad will be cut to four later this month.
Britain last played in what is effectively the Davis Cup's third division 14 years ago. Only three Lithuanians are ranked in the world's top 1,000 – Ricardas Berankis (No 255), Laurynas Grigelis (568) and Dovydas Sakinis (865) – but with Ward (252) the top-ranked singles player in the British squad Lloyd knows the size of the task his team are facing.
Berankis, 19, won the US Open junior title three years ago, trains at the Nick Bollettieri Academy in Florida and has been picked out by Roger Federer as a regular practice partner. Sakinis, 17, beat the highly experienced Georgian Irakli Labadze in the deciding rubber as Lithuania recorded their best ever victory in the Davis Cup last year.
Britain should win the doubles – Fleming and Skupski are ranked the world's No 26 pair – but the singles matches could be tight. Baker, whose disciplined approach has impressed Lloyd in the past, looks likely to play, while Ward may just edge out Evans for Britain's other singles berth.Reuse content