Tunisia latest to highlight Britain's failings
Saturday 05 March 2011
Tunisia's Davis Cup team have a coach as their spare player and a captain who doubles up as their physiotherapist, but the result of the opening rubber against Britain here yesterday suggested that the result of this weekend's Europe Africa Zone Group Two tie is by no means a formality.
Malek Jaziri, the only Tunisian in the world's top 1,000, beat Jamie Baker 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-2 despite suffering from cramp. Tunisia's captain, Abdel Majid Soudani, had to massage Jaziri's legs at the changeovers and clearly supplied a magic touch as the world No 325 closed out the match with something to spare.
James Ward went on to record an emphatic 6-0, 6-2, 6-0 victory over Sami Ghorbel, which means that the tie will be decided by tomorrow's reverse singles, whatever the result of today's doubles, in which Jamie Murray and Colin Fleming will be strong favourites to beat Jaziri and Slim Hamza.
With three Scots in the British team and a Scottish captain in Leon Smith, it was appropriate that the most vocal support for the home side came from a large party of students from Stirling University. The tie is being played in the 1,800-capacity Bolton Arena, which was more than three-quarters full.
While Tunisia are probably the weakest and most impoverished team Britain have ever played, Jaziri is ranked 81 places higher than Baker. The Tunisian No 1 looked a more than competent player, hitting some big winners with his powerful forehand. Baker's competitive spirit was such that he kept fighting back in what proved to be an entertaining contest, but there were periods when the 24-year-old Scot was outplayed.
Baker won the first set, but the Tunisian took command after making an early break in the second. Baker went 4-0 down in the third, brought the score back to 5-5, but then dropped his serve two games later. Jaziri's physical problems in the fourth set were such that he clearly had trouble serving, hitting three double-faults as Baker broke back to trail 3-2, but he recovered sufficiently to take the match.
It was a good job for home hopes that Ghorbel was no match for Ward. A student who does not even have a world ranking, the 19-year-old lost the first set in just 20 minutes and was outclassed throughout.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Manchester United? 'My next move will be a surprise' says PSG striker
Ashes 2015 live: Latest score and updates with Australia on the brink of humiliating defeat after Jimmy Anderson claims David Warner wicket
David De Gea to Real Madrid: Spanish club resume £28m pursuit after fending Manchester United off Sergio Ramos
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey
Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United: Has Memphis Depay revealed 'mystery striker' target?
- 2 Stuart Baggs: Apprentice star 'The Brand' found dead aged 27
- 3 How to cancel Amazon Prime: after Top Gear hiring, how to leave premium service
- 5 Living in Spain and commuting to London 'cheaper than actually working in London'
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
While we fixate on Calais, the Government is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Calais crisis: For desperate migrants it is 'England or death' as they brave dogs, riot police and speeding trains