Tunisia latest to highlight Britain's failings

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.

BUY WIMBLEDON TICKETS

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

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

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works