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Davis Cup quarter-final looms large for British players

The Davis Cup tie between Great Britain and France will take place at Queen’s Club the weekend immediately after Wimbledon, from 17 to 19 July. At stake is a place in the semi-finals in September against either Australia or Kazakhstan.

The final day of the match against France will take place exactly four weeks after the final of the Aegon Championships at Queen’s Club. There is a crowd capacity of 7,000 for each day of the tie. When tickets went on sale on May 27 they were restricted to British Tennis members and people who had already booked tickets for one of the Aegon grass-court events. A few tickets are currently still available for Day 2 (Saturday), limited to a maximum of two per person. Friday 17th and Sunday 19th are sold out.

Leon Smith, Britain’s captain, asked Andy Murray what surface he thought should be used for the tie. The Scot recommended grass but said he had not played any part in the choice of Queen’s Club.

“Obviously the courts at Wimbledon are fantastic, but you can’t turn them around in the space of a few days, whereas the courts here at Queen’s are unbelievable,” Murray said when asked about the tie at this week’s Aegon Championships. “I think some guys like playing on grass courts where there are bad bounces and they are maybe a bit slippy, whereas I don’t think that really would work for my game.”

Smith said: “The grass courts at Queen’s are some of the best in the world and our team will look to use the courts and the passionate home crowd to full advantage.”

Britain are playing in the quarter-finals for the second year in succession. In the first round of this year’s competition – just as they did in 2014 – Smith’s team beat the United States. Murray won both of his singles matches, but the turning point of the tie was James Ward’s comeback victory over world No.19 John Isner. Ward won a memorable final set 15-13.

Smith might have some difficult team choices this time around. When Ward defeated Isner he was British No.2, but since then 20-year-old Kyle Edmund and Slovenian-born Aljaz Bedene have both moved ahead of him. However Bedene, who was granted a British passport earlier this year, is currently ineligible to play for his new country, although the Lawn Tennis Association is appealing against the International Tennis Federation’s decision. Bedene has been told he cannot represent Great Britain in the competition because he has already played for Slovenia.

Edmund, meanwhile, has climbed to the brink of the world’s top 100 after a series of good results. He missed the start of the grass-court season because of an injury he picked up at the French Open, where he successfully came through the qualifying competition. Ward and Edmund will be aiming to underline their grass-court credentials at Wimbledon, where both have been awarded wild cards. However, Ward is hoping that his excellent Davis Cup record will stand him in good stead when Smith makes his selection.

“I won an unbelievable match in the last tie and we wouldn’t be where we are if I didn’t,” Ward said. “I think Leon knows that. And especially on a surface like this, grass, I’ve played well in the past.”

The French have 10 men inside the world’s top 100, including Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (world No.12), Gilles Simon (No.13), Gael Monfils (No.16), Richard Gasquet (No.19), Adrian Mannarino (No.32), Jeremy Chardy (No.37), Benoit Paire (No.67) and Lucas Pouille (97).

Nicolas Mahut, who is currently ranked No.60 in singles, and Edouard Roger-Vasselin are both ranked in the top 20 in doubles. Julien Benneteau, who is arguably France’s best doubles player, recently underwent adductor surgery and will not be available for the tie. With Murray (world No.3) the highest ranked of all the players, the expectation will be that if the Briton wins both of his singles rounds, the doubles rubber could be the key to the tie.

Date 17 – 19 July 2015
Start times Day 1: 1230 BST
Day 2: 1300 BST
Day 3: 1230 BST

Other Quarter Finals
Australia vs. Kazakhstan (Darwin, Australia)
Argentina vs. Serbia (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Belgium vs. Canada (Middelkerke (Ostend), Belgium)

Semi-Finals 18 – 20 September 2015
Final 27 – 29 November 2015