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."

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Fans take a selfie with Ed Miliband in Kempston, near Bedford, on Tuesday
election 2015
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power