Alex Bogdanovic, the 18-year-old national champion, is being prepared for a possible Davis Cup debut against Australia on a clay court in Sydney next February. On New Year's Eve, Roger Taylor, Britain's captain, will take Bogdanovic and Miles Maclagan, the Scot who partnered Tim Henman in the doubles rubber against Thailand, for a week's training in Spain on the clay courts at La Manga.
Bogdanovic and Maclagan will then be accompanied by Jeremy Bates, the Davis Cup coach, on a trip to Majorca to compete in clay-court satellite tournaments. Taylor will head for Australia to monitor the progress of his leading players, Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski, both of whom are rehabilitating after surgery.
Henman, who had an operation to ease inflammation in his right shoulder, resumed light practice this week. Rusedski, who missed the match against Thailand in September because of an injury to his left foot, is also hitting balls again. Both men emphasise that they will not compete until they are fully fit.
Rusedski is scheduled to play in an ATP tournament in Doha, starting on 30 December, but has yet to decide whether he is ready to make the journey to Qatar. Henman said on Wednesday that he was feeling "very positive" about his chances of going to Australia, where the year's first Grand Slam championships in Melbourne will be followed by the first round Davis Cup tie in Sydney.
Taylor, confirming that Bogdanovic was "definitely in the frame" for the Davis Cup squad, pointed out that the Belgrade-born left-hander can play on clay. Apart from Bogdanovic's success at the National Championships in Bolton, Taylor was impressed that he had qualified for his first Challenger tournament in Milan, albeit losing in the first round to the experienced Marc Rosset, of Switzerland, the 1992 Olympic gold medalist. "Alex has started to develop his game and is getting better and better," Taylor said.
* Players at January's Australian Open will face random tests for the banned blood-boosting drug EPO (erythropoietin), said the International Tennis Federation yesterday.
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