Great Britain tops its group at the Davis Cup

No Andy, no problem! Jamie Murray and impressive debutant Neal Skupski help Great Britain top its group at the Davis Cup

  • Great Britain has progressed to the quarter-final stage of the Davis Cup
  • Jamie Murray and debutant Neal Skupski impressed in their doubles match
  • Andy Murray had to watch from the sidelines after being rested by Leon Smith 

Despite the absence of Andy Murray, GB has fought its way through to a quarter-final at this self-styled ‘World Cup of Tennis.’ It is not football, but the whole thing has a certain ring to it, as this evolving new version of the Davis Cup moves towards its climax.

The start time has been moved forward by 30 minutes, trying to ensure that there is no repeat of Thursday’s 4.04am finish to the tie involving the USA and Italy, the second latest finish ever recorded in the sport.

Great Britain got through by topping their group with a 2-1 victory over Kazakhstan clinched by Jamie Murray and impressive debutant Neal Skupski in the deciding doubles.

Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski handed Great Britain a quarter-final spot at the Davis Cup

Andy Murray had been present courtside after being rested for the tie by captain Leon Smith

The country’s most decorated player sat it out after looking heavy legged in his win over an unfancied Dutchman on Wednesday. Kyle Edmund came in to score the winning singles point as Murray looked on from courtside, a little subdued.

British Captain Leon Smith hinted on Thursday night that the albeit rusty 32-year-old Scot would be restored on Friday, and it is surely tempting after Dan Evans went down to his second defeat of the week.

‘It’s important after five weeks of not playing any competitive tennis that you play a match,’ he said of his star player’s appearance against Holland. ‘It wasn’t his ideal match at all, but it was a match nonetheless, and that gets you going again. And for Andy it’s not going to be difficult to recall what needs to be done.’

Germany are weakened by the absence of Alex Zverev, who joined his new mentor Roger Federer in snubbing this event to play a lucrative exhibition tour of South America.

The Great Britain duo emerged 6-1,6-4 victors over Alexander Bublik and Mikhail Kukushkin

They are nonetheless a strong team with two formidable singles players in Philipp Kohlschreiber and Jan-Lennard Struff, backed up by French Open doubles champions Andreas Mies and Kevin Krawietz.

‘I think the guys are pretty similar ranked in the singles and their doubles guys had a great year, so I think it’s very evenly-matched,’ said Jamie Murray.

If his brother was at the peak of his powers GB would be clear favourites, but his analysis looks accurate.

Edmund was overlooked for the opener, but played his best match of the season in taking down Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3, 6-3. The lively conditions at altitude appear to suit him and this is a venue where he already has a career victory over Novak Djokovic, albeit on clay at the Madrid Open.

Kyle Edmund played his best match of the season against Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin

Evans was close to winning again, but went down 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 to the mercurial Alexander Bublik, who was thumping 125 mph second serves.

While some newcomers can shrivel in the team situation Skupski has been excellent, with he and Murray seeing off Bublik and Kukushkin 6-1 ,6-4.

Britain had the lion’s share of support in the intimate setting of Court 3, and it will be interesting to see how many of their 1,000 or so fans stay on for Friday evening.

The teams who have made it through to the last eight – Serbia and Spain look ominous with Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal on board – will share $1million between them, with the eventual winners getting $3.2m.

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