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

BUY WIMBLEDON TICKETS

Suggested Topics
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.

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future