Davis Cup: Why Great Britain may return to Glasgow for quarter-finals

By Russell FullerBBC tennis correspondent
Great Britain Davis Cup team
Great Britain beat the United States 3-2 in their Davis Cup World Group tie at the Emirates Arena

The Emirates Arena produced the best atmosphere Andy Murray says he has ever played in.

This Davis Cup weekend was an unqualified success, which is why France may also be invited to the east end of Glasgow in the third week of July.

Planning for a potential quarter-final began before the first-round tie with the United States. Grass is an obvious starting point for any team fielding Andy Murray in the week after Wimbledon, but the options are more limited than they first appear.

The All England Club did stage a Davis Cup tie in the week after Wimbledon 2000, but the LTA says it has already been ruled out this year. The baselines suffer more wear and tear these days and the quality of the court could deteriorate alarmingly if it was subjected to four days of practice and three more days of play.

The Queen's Club does not wish the Aegon Championships stands to remain in place for a further four weeks, which appears to leave Eastbourne as the only established grass-court venue with a big enough capacity. The regular sea breeze may count against it, however, and Devonshire Park does not have a track record as the most atmospheric of venues.

Andy Murray seals Davis Cup 2015 quarter-final place for Great Britain

Murray's initial assessment was that grass would suit his game and assist Dom Inglot's serve. He feels that with the exception of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - who has not played yet this season because of an arm injury - potential members of the French team would not relish a tie on grass.

So captain Leon Smith's first move is to decide, in conjunction with his team, whether grass would offer GB an advantage they dare not concede.

But if the benefits are not considered to be all that great, then a hard court - which may suit James Ward better - is the other option. And although it seems a little perverse to stage a tie indoors in one of the few months of the year when the weather can usually be relied upon, the noise generated and retained under a roof is hard to emulate.

Smith believes passionately Scotland should have the opportunity to stage more of the sport's big events, and with five consecutive weeks of grass-court tournaments in England in the run up to the quarter-final, Glasgow may again prove a compelling option.

The Hydro (which staged the boxing and the netball finals of last year's Commonwealth Games) could house more spectators than the Emirates, but Bette Midler got in first and is performing there on the Monday of Davis Cup week, which makes a return to the scene of Britain's first-round triumph a real possibility.

Serbia thumped Croatia 5-0 in their Davis Cup World Group tie at the weekend

Once the venue is sorted - the LTA must inform the International Tennis Federation of its choice by 7 April - a strategy to beat France must be unearthed.

With the exception of a Serbia team featuring world number one Novak Djokovic and his good friend Viktor Troicki (who is fuelled by the sense of injustice he still feels at being banned for failing to take a blood test), France are the one team you would prefer to avoid.

Last year's runners-up have seven players in the world's top 40 and it would take another exceptional effort from James Ward to beat performers of the calibre of Tsonga, Gael Monfils, Gilles Simon and Richard Gasquet.

Murray, though, has won nearly 80% of his matches against those four, so another tight contest appears likely.

Smith's choice of doubles pair will be vital, and he has an increasing number of options. Jamie Murray and Inglot were a fine scratch pairing against the Bryans, Inglot's eye-catching performance may earn him the chance to play alongside Andy Murray in future ties, and Colin Fleming is likely to be hard to leave out when he hits full stride after taking January off for the birth of his first child.

Logic dictates a country is very unlikely to win the Davis Cup with only one player in the world's top 50, but this year's competition feels more open than many.

France and Serbia are the only quarter-finalists who were able to field two top-50 players last weekend, Spain are spending the year seeking promotion back to the World Group and, having been deprived of the services of Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka, champions Switzerland are already out.

So can Britain win their quarter-final with France?

The answer may have less to do with the choice of venue, and more with the form and fitness of the key protagonists, who will have played at both the French Open and Wimbledon in the seven weeks leading up to the tie.


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