Lloyd left clutching at straws

Team captain fails to mask Britain's failure to fill the Davis Cup void. Paul Newman reports

As John Lloyd, the Great Britain captain, considers life next year among the minnows of Lithuania, Slovenia and Estonia, he might like to look back on the last time a team from these shores suffered relegation to Europe Africa Zone Group Two, effectively the Davis Cup's third division.

Just like the side that suffered defeat to Poland in Liverpool on Sunday, the British squad that lost to Romania in 1994 contained a 19-year-old making his debut in the competition. For Dan Evans, who lost both his singles rubbers in straight sets at the Echo Arena, read Tim Henman, Britain's most successful Davis Cup player of modern times.

While nobody would yet consider comparing Evans with a man who won 40 Davis Cup rubbers and became world No 4, the Birmingham teenager may be the best that Lloyd will have at his disposal for the immediate challenges ahead, starting with the opponents they will face following tomorrow's draw in Geneva. Although Andy Murray has made all the right noises about wanting to continue helping his country, it is unrealistic to expect the world No 3 to play in every Davis Cup match at the level where Britain will be next year.

The 22-year-old Scot, who won both his singles rubbers at the weekend, is the only player in the world's top 25 from a country that will not be playing in the elite 16-nation World Group next year. Indeed, of the top 50 players, 46 are from World Group countries, three (Australia's Lleyton Hewitt, Romania's Victor Hanescu and Austria's Jürgen Melzer) from the Davis Cup's second tier and only Murray from the third.

Lloyd's problem, nevertheless, is the dearth of talent at his disposal. Between Murray and Evans, the British No 1 and No 5, are James Ward, who has never played in the Davis Cup and currently has glandular fever, and Alex Bogdanovic and Josh Goodall, who have not won a "live" Davis Cup rubber between them in nine attempts.

Evans, who won a Challenger tournament earlier this year, is the best of his generation, though he has yet to prove he has the maturity, hunger and temperament to make further progress, having taken a step back last summer with off-court misdemeanours that led to the Lawn Tennis Association cutting off his support for four months.

At least he has support in high places. "He's a talented boy and a good kid," Murray said. "He'll become a better player and he needs to make sure he learns from this weekend. This should be a good experience in a lot of ways for him."

Lloyd concurs with Murray's view that relegation could be a blessing in disguise. "For players like Dan and some of the others it will be good to get some wins under their belt," Lloyd said. "Then we'll come back up and we'll have players who are better able to deal with the situations you face in Davis Cup."

Worryingly for the immediate future, there were no British boys good enough to play in the US Open juniors. Murray warned that it could be several years before more international-class players emerge, though Lloyd is hoping that a group of highly promising 14 and 15-year-olds led by Oliver Golding, who is already No 77 in the world junior rankings, will quickly live up to their potential.

Britain's women continue to improve. Following Heather Watson's US Open junior title – Laura Robson, the 2008 Wimbledon junior champion, reached the semis – Elena Baltacha and Katie O'Brien reached a career-high No 101 and No 103 in yesterday's updated world ranking list.

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral