Murray is doubtful but Lloyd hails play-off pair

John Lloyd admits that next weekend's Davis Cup tie against Ukraine in Glasgow may hinge on Andy Murray's fitness, but the British captain has been heartened by the outcome of the play-offs for the final two places in his team.

Some doubted the value of holding a six-man shoot-out, but the quality and competitive nature of the matches at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton delighted Lloyd. He selected Josh Goodall and Chris Eaton, who won both their matches, and named James Ward and Colin Fleming as travelling reserves and hitting partners. One of them will replace Murray if the world No 4 fails to recover from the virus that has intermittently laid him low for the past month. Ross Hutchins, a doubles specialist, completes the line-up.

"The play-offs were invaluable," Lloyd said. "The experience hardened a few of the guys up. They played under pressure, although I wouldn't suggest it's as much pressure as playing in the Davis Cup. The blokes who have come through have played extremely well. I'm more confident about the ability of the guys after seeing them in the play-offs than I was beforehand. The matches were of a very high quality indeed."

With a group of such inexperienced players – none of the six has played in the Davis Cup before – Lloyd wanted to assess their ability to play five-set matches.

"Until you've seen someone play in a five-set match you just can't be sure about how they're going to perform," Lloyd said. "I was interested to hear Josh Goodall after he beat Alex Slabinsky. He'd never played a five-set match before and said it was a great experience to know he could keep up his level in a match like that."

Ukraine's best player is Sergiy Stakhovsky, the world No 75, who lost to Murray in the 2004 US Open junior final. He expects to be fit despite suffering an ankle injury while losing to Murray in Dubai last week.

The other squad members are Illya Marchenko (No 227), Sergei Bubka (270 in singles and 159 in doubles) and Ivan Sergeyev (402). Marchenko is likely to be the second singles player while Bubka, the son of the former pole vaulter of the same name, will team up with Stakhovsky in the doubles.

Given that Murray was ill the last time Britain played at the Braehead Arena in 2006 – he could only play the doubles as Serbia won the tie 3-2 – the world No 4 is desperate to recover in time. "Next week should be awesome," he said. "The atmosphere will be way better than last time. Scottish people have watched a lot more tennis than the last time we played there."

With a fit Murray playing two singles and partnering Hutchins, the world No 42 in doubles, Britain would be clear favourites. Without Murray, it would be much closer. Given that Stakhovsky would be favourite to win his two singles rubbers, Britain would need wins in both the doubles and the two other singles. Goodall is No 196 in the world singles rankings, Ward 288, Eaton 390 and Fleming 585.

Bubka and Stakhovsky, who are both based in Bratislava, are an established pair who have performed well together. Stakhovsky reckons his colleague has paid a price for being the son of a famous father. "It puts him under a lot of pressure," he said. "When you get to a Challenger tournament and the press are all over you, it's hard."

Stakhovsky was asked last week if he had ever been to Scotland. "Maybe this is a bad answer but I've been to Shrewsbury," he replied. After being given a geographical update, the Ukrainian said he had seen Braveheart – "It was an awesome movie" – adding: "I know about the traditions – the skirts, the music – and it will be an interesting place to visit."

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
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.

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?