Tunisians tell of 'scary' build up to Davis Cup

James Ward, Britain's No 1 singles player in this weekend's Davis Cup tie against Tunisia in Bolton, said that most of the home team had had a difficult start to the year, but their indifferent form and niggling injuries cannot compare with their opponents' experiences. The Tunisians have had their preparations disrupted by their country's recent revolution, which ignited upheavals throughout the region.

Malek Jaziri, Tunisia's best player at No 325 in the world rankings, was training in Tunis when a practice session was brought to a rapid halt by gunfire. "I was on the court with Malek when we heard guns being fired and we had to leave," Wallid Jallali, his coach, said yesterday. "People were shouting: 'They're coming! The helicopters are coming!' We did not leave our houses for a week. It was scary."

Jaziri had returned to Tunisia from a training camp in Spain one week before the revolution. "It wasn't easy," he said. "I had six days when I didn't practise. There were very big problems, though it's safe now."

While the team appeared happy with the outcome of the upheavals – "We needed that political change," Sami Ghorbel, the second singles player, said – one squad member, Ahmed Triki, did not make it to Britain after the troubles delayed his visa application. Jallali, has replaced him as a nominated player just to make up the numbers.

Ghorbel, a 19-year-old student on a tennis scholarship at university in Alabama, does not even have a world ranking. Slim Hamza, who will play doubles with Jaziri, is world No 1,602 in singles (he has precisely one ranking point, courtesy of one win in a Futures tournament in Tunisia last June) and does not have a doubles world ranking.

Leon Smith, Britain's captain, sprang a surprise when he omitted Alex Bogdanovic, having recalled the 26-year-old to the squad last week after a three-year absence. Instead, Smith's singles players are Ward (world No 214), who has lost at the first hurdle in six of his seven tournaments this year, and Jamie Baker (No 406), who has lost first time out in his last two. Although Bogdanovic (No 374) has lost all six of his live Davis Cup rubbers, he has at least won a Futures tournament in the United States this year. "James and Jamie are two guys with a lot of Davis Cup experience," Smith said. "It was a tough decision because all three have been playing very well since we've been together this week."

Andy Murray practised with the squad at Roehampton last week but did not make himself available for selection. However, his brother, Jamie, having returned to the world's top 50, is back after an absence of three years. He will partner Colin Fleming in the doubles.

Most of the tickets in the 1,800-capacity Bolton Arena have been sold for the first of three matches Britain must win to climb out of Europe Africa Zone Group Two, the competition's third tier. The winners will meet Ireland or Luxembourg in July.

Davis Cup schedule

(British names first):

Today (1pm start): J Baker v M Jaziri, J Ward v S Ghorbel



Tomorrow (1pm): J Murray and C Fleming v Jaziri and S Hamza



Sunday (midday): Ward v Jaziri, Baker v Ghorbel

Suggested Topics
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
and  

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

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence