The draw for next year’s Davis Cup competition has not been kind to Britain who will not only have to face the five-time champions Spain, but play the tie on their opponent’s home territory.
“It's obviously one of the toughest draws if not the toughest Leon Smith
In addition it is unlikely that Andy Murray will want to play in it, even if fit, as it is scheduled for the weekend after the Australian Open final and would mean switching from a hardcourt surface to clay, which is favoured by the Spanish.
Leon Smith would have to turn to Kyle Edmund to lead the Brits and with Dan Evans sidelined and awaiting his punishment for using cocaine – which is due next month – the team captain will have to bring in the inexperienced Cameron Norrie, the 22-year-old who is only just getting to grips with being a professional player.
In contrast the Spanish could see Rafa Nadal leading the team but he has not played Davis Cup for the past two years, but they have a string of players in the top 50, all experienced clay-courters, who could readily substitute the world number one and provide suitable back-up.
In the doubles Jamie Murray will no doubt partner Dominic Inglot for a third consecutive rubber.
“It’s obviously one of the toughest draws if not the toughest,” Smith told the Daily Telegraph. “Especially away, straight after the Australian Open. They have enormous strength and depth and choice of surface which will no doubt be clay. As always it will depend on who is available to play for us as we rely on a smaller pool of players.”
Davis Cup World Group Draw
First round (2-4 February)
France [s] [c] v Netherlands
Japan [c] [*] v Italy [s]
Spain [c] v Great Britain [s]
Australia [s] [c] v Germany
Kazakhstan [c] v Switzerland [s]
Croatia [s] [c] [*] v Canada
Serbia [s] [c] v USA
[#] Hungary [c] v Belgium [s]
[#] = Belgium given choice to host tie as 2017 finalist nation (Belgian tennis federation to confirm by 4 October)