Manchester | Smith calls for strong vocal support to clinch crucial win

Australia beat Switzerland 3-0 and have secured one of the two places available from Group B for November’s Davis Cup Finals in Malaga, Spain, leaving Great Britain with the task of defeating France on Sunday in the last of the pool matches being played in Manchester AO Arena.

It will go down to the wire - we need a full house and a lot of noise, Leon Smith

Thanasi Kokkinakis and Alex de Minaur won both singles rubbers against Dominic Stricker and Marc-Andrea Huesler 6-3 7-5 and 6-4 6-3 respectively, with the Wimbledon doubles champions, Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell making it a clean sweep with a 6-2 6-4 to seal the Aussie’s qualification.

Had the Swiss triumphed by that same score, Australia would have been eliminated leaving Britain with the second qualification place, but that is not the case!

The final group shoot-out between neighbours Britain and France, will be another page in the long-time rivalry between the two nations.

“It’s a massive match. It will go down to the wire – we need a full house and a lot of noise,” Leon Smith., the home team’s captain, said as defeat would mean the hosts elimination from this year’s competition.

Leon Smith calls on the crowd to participate vocally

(Photo by Matt McNulty/Getty Images for ITF)

Smith has a strong squad and all five of them have been in action in the previous two ties played earlier in the week which saw Britain defeat Australia and Switzerland 2-1, leaving the captain with some tough decisions.

“Everyone’s played now. We’ve got a full deck of cards to play with,” Smith said. “Ultimately we’ll go with what we think’s the best option, but everyone’s available, everybody’s ready to go.

“You’re not always going to get the decisions right, and there’s not a right answer most of the time. You can look at match-ups as much as you want but there’s other equations in there.
“Genuinely it feels everyone’s in it together, everyone’s been totally accepting of any decisions I’ve made. There’s not been any ill feeling at all.

“There’s always going to be disappointment because these guys are great players, they all want to play.”

(L-R) Leon Smith, Cameron Norrie, Daniel Evans, Andy Murray, Jack Draper and Neal Skupski need to win to qualify for the 'Final Eight'

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images for LTA)

And while France lost to Australia in their last outing, they are not to be discounted for they can field a mixture of experience and youth with 19-year-old Arthur Fils alongside Adrian Mannarino and Ugo Humbert, 34th and 36th in the world, plus doubles specialist, Edouard Roger-Vaselin and Nicolas Mahut.

The tie can be seen on the BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport website on Sunday from one o’clock BST.

In the other groups, there have been some surprising results.

While the defending champions, Canada topped Group A with a 2-1 win over Chile to secure their place in the ‘Final Eight’, the 32-time Davis Cup champions USA playing in Group D, will not be progressing following their 3-0 loss to Finland! It is the first time the Finn’s have reached the latter stages of the competition.

In Group C, the Czech Republic clinched top spot with their third victory as they beat already-qualified Serbia in Valencia, Spain.

On Sunday, Italy need to beat Sweden in Bologna in Group A to have a chance of qualifying, while already-eliminated South Korea and Spain play in Valencia in Group C, and in Group D the already-qualified Netherlands take on bottom-placed Croatia in Split.



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