Davis Cup - Tramlines: Insanity reigns with A-Bog selection

Tue, 22 Feb 10:45:00 2011

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results."

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There's a lot of debate over who first uttered this classic quote. Was it Albert Einstein? Benjamin Franklin?

Either way, it doesn't much matter.

What does matter is that Britain's Davis Cup captain Leon Smith has obviously never heard it before. That is the only possible explanation for his decision to include Alex Bogdanovic in Britain's squad for the match against Tunisia at the Bolton Arena in March.

The 26-year-old Bogdanovic has played in five different Davis Cup teams. His record reads: played eight, lost seven.

His sole victory came in a singles match against doubles specialist Todd Woodbridge. Woody was well into his mid-thirties at the time, and retired just a few months later.

Oh yes, we nearly forgot: the match was a dead rubber in any case, the fifth of the five matches, played while Australia were leading the tie 4-0.

All but one of the Davis Cup teams Bogdanovic has played in has lost - the exception came in 2005 when Britain squeaked past Israel 3-2 despite Bogdanovic's capitulation. Even then, the architects of the victory were an ageing Greg Rusedski and a scarcely pubescent Andy Murray.

So bad has Bogdanovic's tennis been in the unique cauldron that is the Davis Cup that former GB skipper John Lloyd eventually just refused to pick him.

Even during the brief periods when the Bosnian-born left-hander was apparently making the most of his undeniable natural talent, Lloyd accepted the sad truth: put him in front of a baying Davis Cup crowd and Bogdanovic will go to bits.

The strangest aspect of Smith's decision to recall Bogdanovic is that the player is currently making no use whatsoever of the aforementioned talent.

He has slipped so badly in the world rankings that he is now world number 378. Britain - even Britain - has five players with higher singles rankings (James Ward, Daniel Cox, Josh Milton, Richard Bloomfield and Andy Murray).

In short, picking Alex Bogdanovic makes less sense than ever.

Despite all this, and despite the fact that A-Bog ruled himself out of the last Davis Cup match over a funding row, Smith has named Bogdanovic as one of his three singles players for the match.

Ward and Jamie Baker (ranked 401st in the world) are the other two singles players in the team, and though Smith could end up not using Bogdanovic it doesn't sound like that's his plan at the moment. Quite the opposite, in fact: he's talking him up as if the serial flop will be his main man:

"He's very keen to play and very motivated," said Smith, who then added (perhaps with a hint of desperation) that "he's a much better player than his ranking might suggest".

While it's difficult to argue with that statement, it is equally inarguable that Bogdanovic is evidently a much worse Davis Cup player than his ranking might suggest.

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TWEETS OF THE WEEK

"Had 4 cars picking us up at the airport in Doha, think it should be enough;) hehe.. On my way to the hotel now!" - Caroline Wozniacki reveals the unexpected perks of getting back her world number one ranking...

" Just rented a car for a full week in the States for £142. Cannae beat it!" - ...while British doubles specialist Colin Fleming reveals what floats the boat of the players who feed in the shallow end of tennis's money pool.

" In Casablanca. My hotel room smells like the mix of urine and cigarettes. Suisse would not be proud of this 'Hotel Suisse'... On another note, there is absolutely nothing suspicious about 3 different girls, sitting at 3 different table in the hotel lobby..." - Meanwhile, Amer Delic offers some useful travel tips for where not to stay if you're visiting Morocco.

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RANKINGS

The big news of the week is that Caroline Wozniacki's victory in Dubai puts her back on top of the women's world rankings after briefly being forced aside by Kim Clijsters. The pair are still a long way clear of third-placed Vera Zvonareva, with Sam Stosur a further 2000 points down in fifth.

No major moves in the the men's game, although world number four Robin Soderling's victory at the weekend means he now has 300-odd points breathing space over fifth-placed Andy Murray.

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A-BOG v A-BOG

Many have debated sport's greatest rivalries over the years. Is it the effervescent rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid? The 'Duel in the Sun' between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson at Turnberry in 1977? Or perhaps the immortal 19th Century cricket clashes between the Gentlemen and the Players at Lord's?

Regular readers of Tramlines know the truth, however: sport's greatest tussle is the secret battle between Alex Bogdanovic of Britain and Alex Bogmolov Jr of the USA.

It was another fascinating clash last week: on the one hand, A-Bog (US) lost his first round qualifier against Japan's Kei Nishikori at ATP Memphis; on the other hand, Bogdanovic did not play, and slipped 78 spots in the ATP rankings.

Though tempted to give neither man a point, we decided in the end that the winner had to be A-Bog (GB)! The news that the 26-year-old has been recalled to the Davis Cup squad surely makes up for the fact that his career appears to be in terminal decline.

Standings: A-Bog (US) 21-13 A-Bog (GB) (Season standings: 1-1)

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