Great Britain aim to cause another upset in their Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Europe/Africa Zone Group I second round tie against Belgium at the Braehead Arena in Glasgow this weekend.
Despite the absence of world No. 4 Andy Murray, Britain claimed a surprise win against Slovak Republic in February and now look to progress to September’s World Group play-offs.
Murray is absent once again for this weekend’s tie in his homeland after choosing to focus on his preparations for the upcoming clay court season, but has vowed to return to the side in September if GB can beat Belgium this weekend.
Britain’s preparations were hit when James Ward was forced to withdraw this week due to injury. He has been replaced by world No. 253 Josh Goodall who joins Dan Evans, Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins.
Goodall will kick off the action against world No. 68 Steve Darcis, before world No. 344 Evans – the home hero in February with two wins over higher-ranked opponents – takes on the experienced 31-year-old Olivier Rochus, ranked No. 59.
The British team has enjoyed plenty of success at Braehead, having won their past three ties there, and captain Leon Smith is hoping that the home crowd can help his side make it four-in-a-row in Scotland this weekend.
Smith said: “The crowd played a significant part in the Slovakia result in terms of getting a huge amount of adrenaline going for us. It was inspirational last time and that’s why it was an easy decision to come here again.”
Belgium are without world No. 70 Xavier Malisse, who retired from Davis Cup last year. Ruben Bemelmans and David Goffin make up a Belgian side which is strong all-round, with all four players ranked higher than their British opponents.
Belgium captain Johan Van Herck is confident, although he also remains cautious. He said: “I think we are ready to play. Based on the rankings, we are the favourites, but still to come here and play in a full house will be difficult.”
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In Amsterdam, Netherlands host Romania and the home side are overwhelming favourites after the visitors were hit by a boycott from their top five players – including world No. 93 Victor Hanescu – following the sacking of captain Andrei Pavel.
This means world No. 443 Petru-Alexandru Luncanu is Romania’s top-ranked player and he opens up against Thomas Schoorel, ranked No. 132, before Dutch No. 1 Robin Haase, ranked No. 53, faces world No. 680 Andrei Daescu.
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Slovenia have made the long trip to South Africa and will fancy their chances against a home side hit by the absence of world No. 33 Kevin Anderson, who is in the process of applying for an American green card which means he cannot presently leave the USA.
World No. 120 Rik De Voest is also unavailable for the tie at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre in Johannesburg. Ruan Roelofse, ranked No. 379, plays world No. 109 Blaz Kavic, and Izak Van Der Merwe, ranked No. 126, faces Grega Zemlja, who is ranked just two places below.
Israel host Portugal in Ramot Hasharon as the home side bid to go a step closer to returning to the World Group for the first time since 2010. World No.6 2 Dudi Sela starts the tie against Frederico Gil, ranked No. 84, before world No. 199 Amir Weintraub looks to cause an upset against Rui Machado, ranked No. 101.
Captain Leon Smith (GBR) - 05/04/2012
Captain Johan van Herck (NED) - 05/04/2012