Davis Cup quarters: GB hoping for spirit of 1981 to beat France
Going by history, this Davis Cup quarter-finals clash between Great Britain and France is an intriguing one, as both nations have won the competition nine times before and reached the final on 17 occasions.
However, it is fair to say that the latter have by far been the better of the two in recent years, having reached the final last year and claimed the title three times since 1991.
In that time, Britain have not even made it to the semis, and they are aiming to make that stage for the first time since 1981 with their team featuring the likes of Christopher Mottram (whose career highlight was getting to the fourth round of Wimbledon) and Richard Lewis.
If that duo plus doubles players Andrew Jarrett and Jonathan Smith, neither of whom reached higher than 85th in the doubles rankings during their careers, could reach a semi-final then surely the current crop of stars can too.
Leading the line for GB (6/1 to win the 2015 Davis Cup with Coral), who last won the title in 1936 and got to the final in 1978, against France (3/1) at Queen’s Club from July 17th-19th will be recent champion on those courts and world number three Andy Murray.
The Scot will go into his two singles matches against potential opponents Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet or Gilles Simon as the heavy favourite to give his team two points in the best-of-five tie. Nicolas Mahut will most likely play in the doubles.
Then, all the hosts need to do is find another point from one of James Ward’s singles fixtures or the doubles clash which will likely feature Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot.
Ward, who heroically bowed out of the third round of Wimbledon this year after leading Canadian Vasek Pospisil 2-0 in sets, will be hoping to claim another top scalp after knocking out American duo Sam Querrey and John Isner in successive years.
Andy’s brother Jamie (doubles ranked 20th), meanwhile, will be on a high after reaching his first SW19 men’s doubles final, and he could partner Inglot (46).
Davis Cup captain Leon Smith, who led GB to the quarters last year too, is certainly confident ahead of this encounter, and said last month: “Andy will spearhead our side, carrying tremendous momentum from the clay court season onto the grass.
“James Ward knows what it’s like to create upsets in the Davis Cup and we saw that in his heroic performance against John Isner in March.”
Simon, who got to the Wimbledon quarters this year, meanwhile, believes his side’s depth in talent will get them through. “We have a lot of options in the France team and the British team has less option, with the selection they have, so it’s pretty clear what we are going to face,” he said.
“We just want to be ready for it. We are in a good position right now, so we just hope it’s going to be the same on Friday.”
Coral’s betting tip – GB win Davis Cup @ 6/1