Leon Smith confident Davis Cup team can triumph in Canada without Andy Murray

A Davis Cup team of Dan Evans, Kyle Edmund, Jamie Murray and Dom Inglot will take on Canada in the first round this weekend

Eleanor Crooks
Wednesday 01 February 2017 21:31
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Smith said they would miss Murray but believes his team can taste success against Canada in the first round of the Davis Cup
Smith said they would miss Murray but believes his team can taste success against Canada in the first round of the Davis Cup

Andy Murray will not be making a last-minute trip to snowy Ottawa but Britain's burgeoning tennis resources mean they will be expected to win without him.

A Davis Cup team of Dan Evans, Kyle Edmund, Jamie Murray and Dom Inglot will take on Canada in the first round this weekend.

Evans' heroics in reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open, beating Marin Cilic and Bernard Tomic, have elevated him alongside Edmund in the world top 50.

With world number three Milos Raonic having pulled out of the Canadian team with an injury suffered in Australia, the hosts do not have a top-100 player to call on in singles.

Captain Leon Smith had left the door open for Murray but admitted, with the rare chance for a month-long break, the prospects of the world number one playing were always slim at best.

Smith said: "I spent time with him in Miami during December talking about it pretty openly so we always knew it was going to be a challenging one for him to play and it's the right thing for him to do what he's doing, stay at home, get some rest after what was an unbelievable three or four months for him and focus on these four here who are really good players.

"We've got so much confidence in what they can do.

"We all miss him because he is such a great influence on the team both on and off the court. Like we saw last year, he puts a lot of interest and care into this team.

"He obviously gets on really well with the four players here and he is very close to all the support team as well. He will be watching for sure. He will send in messages.

Murray is in desperate need of a break 

"He watches all of our guys, not just the four here, the ones on the Challenger circuit and the Futures tour and is often feeding back a lot of info."

Britain have recent experience of winning without Murray in the team in Serbia last year, but the 29-year-old travelled to Belgrade as a spectator and was a big influence in the dressing room.

On that occasion it was Edmund who stepped up on his favoured clay, winning both his singles matches and the tie.

Murray has played a nurturing role in the 22-year-old's development, frequently inviting him to training camps, but Edmund is confident the team can cope without their talisman.

"It doesn't make too much of a difference in terms of preparation and how we go about our business and the mentality going into the match," he said.

"It's always nice to have Andy around, not just as a player but also a mate and someone to spend time with."

Raonic has pulled out for Canada

Organisers were rushing to get the Arena at TD Place, which hosted an ice hockey match on Saturday, ready for the tie beginning on Friday.

The big decision for the hosts will be who to field in singles.

Their highest-ranked available player, world number 128 Peter Polansky, was only drafted into the team when Raonic pulled out and it may well be Vasek Pospisil and Denis Shapovalov who are preferred.

Pospisil has plummeted from a high of 25 in the rankings to 133, winning only 10 tour-level matches since the start of last year, but on his day is clearly capable of beating both British players.

Vasek Pospisil has stepped in for Raonic 

Seventeen-year-old Shapovalov, meanwhile, is a wild card - a highly-talented young player who is the reigning junior Wimbledon champion.

Canada also have a strong doubles team in Pospisil and evergreen Daniel Nestor, who at 44 is playing in his 50th tie.

Smith said: "I'd imagine we probably would be favourites, but only just. You come to Davis Cup, we've had upsets before, we've had matches go against us with players that are lower ranked than ours - it happens.

"But what I do know is we've got a whole batch of experience across these four players now, they're very used to the environment of Davis Cup, they've been part of it for a very long time now, and all four of these guys will just go out and fight their hearts out."

PA

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