LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 01: Leon Smith, captain of British Bulldogs, reacts during day six of the St. James's Place Battle of The Brits Team Tennis at National Tennis Centre on August 1, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images for Battle Of The Brits)
Tennis | Davis Cup Finals 2021 | Leon Smith encouraged by strength of British team ahead of group stages
Leon Smith has been encouraged by Cameron Norrie’s progress this season as Great Britain take on France and Czech Republic in Austria.
INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA – The Davis Cup Finals start on Thursday with the group stages taking place across three different cities around Europe.
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After the event was postponed in 2020 due to COVID-19, the Davis Cup Finals are back with Great Britain looking to match their semi-final performance in 2019. However this year the tournament is spread over three cities with Innsbruck, Turin and Madrid hosting the event. Despite player complaints the finals now take place over a 10 day period with the final taking place on the 5th of December.
Leon Smith’s side will have to play their first two matches of the competition behind closed doors after Austria announced going into lockdown. Great Britain arrive in Innsbruck in good shape with Cameron Norrie recently winning Indian Wells as well as playing two matches at the Nitto ATP Finals. Furthermore doubles player Joe Salisbury capped off his great 2021 by reaching the final in Turin with partner Rajeev Ram.
Speaking to PA news agency GB’s captain was impressed with Norrie’s performance this season and is encouraged by the strength of his team, “It’s such a positive having a team like this,” Smith was quoted as saying by The Independent.
“What Cam has been doing this year is absolutely exceptional. Of course he wasn’t in our last squad and to go from that to being our number one player and closing in on a top-10 ranking, it’s really so impressive. Every single person respects what he’s doing.
“With Evo (Evans), he’s now been around that level for a while, sitting at 25, 26 in the world, and he can go higher. He’s capable of big wins, he’s got a huge amount of Davis Cup experience. Then in doubles we’ve got three at the top of the game. Joe Salisbury has had an exceptional couple of years on tour. He’s playing such a high level. He’s one of the best athletes on tour. With Neal playing on the ad court, that’s why we went with him.”
Despite there being no Andy Murray, Smith’s team will be slight favourites to top the group and reach the quarter-finals where they would face the winners of the Serbia-Germany-Austria group in the last eight.
First though they will have to get past a French team that boast Nitto ATP Finals champions Pierre-Hughes Herbert and Nicolas Mahut as well as Czech Republic. Great Britain will start on Saturday against France before facing the Czech Republic the next day.
Both matches begin at 9am UK time with the quarter-final taking place at 3pm UK time on Tuesday 30th of November. The semi-final would be on Saturday 4th of December in Madrid before the final taking place the very next day. Here are the group stage nominations for each team in Great Britain’s group:
Captain: Leon Smith
Captain: Sebastian Grosjean
Captain: Jaroslav Navratil
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