Scot the key in crucial Davis Cup challenge

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The Independent Online

Andy Murray was given a taste of his onerous Davis Cup future when the British team was named last night for next week's tie against Israel at Devonshire Park in Eastbourne.

With Tim Henman in Davis Cup retirement and Greg Rusedski nursing a hip injury, much will rest on 19-year-old Murray for what has become an important match. Murray, the world No 36, is the only other Briton in the world's top 100. As Rusedski cannot be far off retirement it is a situation which will become all too familiar for the Scot, presuming he continues to make himself available for Davis Cup duty.

Jeremy Bates, the British captain, is also without his doubles specialist, James Auckland, who is getting married next weekend. His four-man team to face Israel from 21-23 July comprises Murray, Alex Bogdanovic (world No 154), Alan Mackin (361) and Jamie Delgado (427).

Murray and Bogdanovic are honing their grass-court games in a tournament in Newport, Rhode Island, this week, while Mackin and Delgado have been selected on the strength of past form on the surface. Mackin took Marcos Baghdatis, the Wimbledon semi-finalist, to five sets in the first round at the All England Club a fortnight ago, while Delgado has often put in his best performances on grass.

Bogdanovic, 22, returns to the international fold after telling Bates before the defeat against Serbia and Montenegro in April that he did not feel mentally ready to play for his country. Having lost that match in Glasgow, Britain need to beat Israel if they are to avoid going into a play-off match against Ukraine to decide who will be relegated from the Europe-Africa Zone into the Davis Cup's third division.

"The team I have selected has shown that they can win matches on this surface and I know they are all excited at the chance to play," Bates said. "This is an important tie for us to win, so it will be an advantage to play in front of a supportive home crowd down in Eastbourne."

When the teams last met, on a hard court in Tel Aviv 16 months ago, Britain won 3-2 thanks to a memorable doubles victory over Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram by Murray and David Sherwood, who were making their Davis Cup debuts, and singles wins by Rusedski over Harel Levy and Noam Okun.

Israel's team for the 4-1 loss to Serbia and Montenegro earlier this year saw 28-year-old Okun (world No 234) and 21-year-old Dudi Sela (162) play in the singles, while Erlich and Ram, who are ranked No 12 in the world in doubles, won their only point.

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