Great Britain braced for ‘complicated’ Davis Cup qualifier in Colombia

Dan Evans

Great Britain captain Leon Smith is preparing his squad for a “very complicated” Davis Cup Finals qualifying tie in Colombia on clay.

The main challenge – aside from a demanding travel schedule and the 16-hour time difference having flown from Australia – is the fact the matches will be played at an altitude of 2,600 metres and with pressureless balls.

Smith selected the highest ranked team, with British numbers one, two and three – Cameron Norrie, Dan Evans and Jack Draper, called up for the first time – all making the trip alongside doubles players Neal Skupski and Joe Salisbury.

Friday’s opening singles match at the Pueblo Viejo Country Club will see Evans face Nicolas Mejia, with world number 11 Norrie then playing Nicolas Barrientos.

Evans will be in doubles action on Saturday when he partners Skupski against Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, who are two-time grand slam champions.

The reverse singles, featuring Evans and Norrie again, will finish proceedings if needed.

“It’s a very complicated tie,” Smith told the PA news agency last week. “The day of the draw, you’re probably looking at a couple to avoid in terms of logistics and timings, and we didn’t avoid it. It’s the most complicated one.

“It couldn’t be more extreme. I guess it’s going back to the old home and away style, it gives nations like that the opportunity to really gain home advantage, and boy do they have that.”

While Andy Murray missed out on selection for the tie, Draper, 21, had been called up for the first time after his rapid climb from outside the top 250 at the start of last year to rank 40th in the ATP singles standings.

Evans recently voiced his frustration at not being picked for doubles in the defeats by the USA and the Netherlands in Glasgow last September, when Smith instead selected Murray and Salisbury, as Britain failed to qualify for the quarter-finals.

But Smith added: “We’re good. What I would say is I’m just delighted he’s playing. Dan’s one of the most important players on our team, he plays with passion, and he’s playing really well.”

“The fact that all of the singles players and doubles players want to be there means an awful lot. We couldn’t be more grateful, honestly.”

Despite the unfamiliar conditions, Britain should still be favourites to win the tie, considering all three of their singles players are in the world’s top 40.

The winning nations will reach the 16-team Davis Cup Finals group stage in September, where Britain are again in line to be a host country if they progress.

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