Great Britain’s Davis Cup qualifier in Colombia is ‘very complicated’, says captain

Great Britain captain Leon Smith is preparing his team for a very “tough” Davis Cup final qualifying tie in Colombia on clay.

The main challenge, in addition to a demanding travel schedule and the 16-hour time difference due to having flown from Australia, is that the matches will be played at an altitude of 2,600 meters and with balls without pressure.

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

Friday’s opening singles match at Pueblo Viejo Country Club will see Evans take on Nicolás Mejía, with world number 11 Norrie playing Nicolás Barrientos.

Evans will be in doubles action on Saturday when he plays Skupski against two-time Grand Slam champions Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah.

Reverse singles, with Evans and Norrie again, will end proceedings if necessary.

“When the draw came out, we knew this was probably the toughest game we could have,” Smith said.

“Colombia are a really strong team anyway, but when you consider the logistics of coming from Melbourne for most of our players, changing the surface, but of course the altitude, is something that needs adaptation.

“The ball is probably the main thing and that’s why we came early, to have seven or eight days of preparation, which is more than usual for Davis Cup.”

While Andy Murray missed out on selection for the qualifier, the 21-year-old Draper had been called up for the first time after his rapid rise from outside the top 250 early last year to sit 40th in the ATP singles rankings. .

Smith told a press conference after the draw leading up to the tie: “We have our strongest team and having all of them wanting to be here, representing their country and prepared to come in early has made a huge difference, but we know it’s going to happen. “. be a very difficult challenge.”

Norrie reached the final in Auckland and made the third round at the Australian Open, but he will not take the challenge of world number 510 Barrientos lightly.

“We have to realize that we are playing in difficult conditions,” said the British number one.

“It is quite difficult coming from Melbourne and having to adapt to the height and the ball, but we have given ourselves the best opportunity.

“I’m playing very well at the moment, so I’m looking forward to starting tomorrow.”

Dan Evans will also play doubles against Colombia (Steve Welsh/PA)

Evans recently expressed his frustration at not being chosen for the doubles in the losses to the United States and the Netherlands in Glasgow last September, when Smith selected Murray and Salisbury, as Great Britain failed to qualify for the quarter-finals.

“Opening the heat is going to be a lot of fun, with a good crowd,” Evans said. “I am looking forward to representing my country again, hopefully putting a point on the board.

“These are difficult conditions, but we also achieve that on the (ATP) Tour. It’s about winning here, it doesn’t matter how, if it’s pretty or if it’s ugly”.

Despite the unknown conditions, Great Britain should remain favorites to win the tie, considering all three of their individual players are among the top 40 in the world.

Colombia doubles player Farah said: “The pressure is on them, but we are playing at home and we have the experience of the height, and we have to hold on to that.

“Anything can happen here. This is the Davis Cup and nothing is set in stone.”

The winning nations will reach the group stage of the 16-team Davis Cup final in September, where Great Britain is back in line to be a host nation if they advance.

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