Davis Cup: Leon Smith defends team selections after Great Britain lose to Netherlands


Leon Smith (right) has been Great Britain’s Davis Cup captain since 2015
Group stage venues: Bologna, Glasgow, Hamburg and Valencia Dates: September 13-18
Coverage: Live TV coverage of Great Britain matches on BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website and app, live text commentary and match reports on the website and app

Great Britain’s Davis Cup captain Leon Smith defended his team selection after the hosts failed to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition.

Ahead of the group stage in Glasgow this week there was widespread agreement that the 10-time champions had the strongest squad ever in terms of depth.

Cameron Norrie, Dan Evans and Andy Murray are ranked in the top 50 in singles and Joe Salisbury and Neal Skupski are ranked first and third in doubles.

Murray played doubles ahead of Skupski.

“Is it that controversial to field your two top-ranked singles players? No,” Smith told BBC Sport.

“Is it controversial to put the number one doubles player in the world there? No.

“Is it controversial to put Andy Murray on the court here in Glasgow? I don’t think so. We thought it was the right thing to do, and that’s up to me.”

This week’s two Group D matches against the USA and the Netherlands were decided by doubles rubbers, both ending in three-set defeats.

Murray said he and Salisbury showed they had the potential to play top-level doubles when they met at last year’s Tokyo Olympics, but understood why Smith might have questions about the selection, especially about not playing doubles specialist Skupski.

Skupski and his Dutch partner Wesley Koolhof – who was on the other side of the net against Salisbury and Murray on Friday – were runners-up in men’s doubles at the US Open last week.

“I’m thinking the same thing right now … should I play or Neal should play,” said Murray, who scored 11 of the 12 points Britain needed to win the Davis Cup in 2015 in singles and doubles.

“And it’s easy to think about all those things,” he said at a press conference. “[But] the reality is that the teams we lost are not established pairs, either.”

Salisbury’s regular partner is Rajeev Ram, who suffered the US defeat on Wednesday just days after winning the US Open title with him.

“If me and Joe played together more I’m sure we’d be an even stronger team,” Murray said. “But I don’t think we played two bad games. We actually played pretty well.”

This week’s Group D results put the Netherlands and the United States into November’s knockout stages, leaving Great Britain to play a draw against Kazakhstan on Sunday, where nothing is on the line as both have been eliminated.

“It’s hard to get motivated,” Murray said. “The way we’ve lost these two games as well makes it even more difficult.

“It’s a little flaw with this format, basically on Sunday, the last day, there’s no tennis. Well, there’s tennis, but it’s irrelevant.”

He added that he was particularly “sad” that Great Britain had been unable to deliver success on home soil, and wondered how many more opportunities he would have to help them.

“When you get to my age and this stage of your career, I don’t know how many chances I’ll still have to be in this team,” the 35-year-old said.

“Now we have a lot of depth in singles and doubles. That’s why it makes it more difficult.”