GREAT Britain can mount a genuine challenge for a first Davis Cup in 80 years if they can overcome a tricky tie against the United States, says former British No1 Greg Rusedski.
The nine-time champions have not passed round one of the World Group since current standard-bearer Andy Murray was born, and will have to beat USA for the first time since 1935 for that to change.
But Rusedski, who was part of the GB team narrowly beaten by the Americans in a thrilling 1999 tie, believes yesterday’s draw could offers hope of a return to the glory days of the 1930s.
“If we can find a way past America, it would be either Italy or Argentina next, and given that Argentina would be at home, it is not a bad draw after America,” he said. “I think we have the ability to go deep into the draw with this team, but we have to get past America first.”
Rusedski believes Murray’s cohorts have greater depth in their doubles ranks than he and Tim Henman did, and that that could be key to overcoming a USA team likely to include John Isner and Sam Querrey.
“The advantage this team has compared to the one we had is the ability to choose a world-class doubles team,” added the 40-year-old, who is set to compete in London at the Statoil Masters later this year.
“With Colin Fleming, Jonny Marray, eventually Ross Hutchins when he is fully recovered, and Jamie Murray, we have lots of players to choose from in doubles, and as we saw at the weekend, Andy Murray is a brilliant doubles player.
“Tim and I were really a two-man team and you could find yourself having played nearly 10 hours before even going on court for the reverse singles. If we had the doubles team options they have today, I think we’d have won World Group matches.”
British No2 Dan Evans and No3 James Ward are currently best placed to join Murray in the singles rubbers but Rusedski thinks 18-year-old Kyle Edmund could yet gatecrash the squad. “A lot can change in six months,” he said. “[GB captain] Leon Smith has shown he can make brave choices.”
Greg Rusedski will compete in the Statoil Masters Tennis with John McEnroe, Goran Ivanisevic, Pat Rafter, Tim Henman and Stefan Edberg at the Royal Albert Hall, 4-8 December. Hospitality packages available from £179. Call: 0208233854 or email email@example.com. For more: www.statoilmasterstennis.com.
WORLD GROUP DRAW
■ Czech Republic v Holland
■ Japan v Canada
■ Germany v Spain
■ France v Australia
■ USA v Great Britain
■ Argentina v Italy
■ Kazakhstan v Belgium
■ Serbia v Switzerland
Ties take place from 31 January to 2 February 2014. Home teams listed first and have choice of venue.