Ivan Dodig is Croatia's highest-ranked player available for the play-off with GB
Former Great Britain captain and two-times Grand Slam mixed doubles champion Jeremy Bates says home advantage will play a key part in the outcome of the World Group play-off tie this weekend.
Spearheaded by Andy Murray, Great Britain travel to Croatia with the hope of returning to the prestigious World Group for the first time since 2008.
Although Croatia will be without their star player Marin Cilic and big-serving Ivo Karlovic, the hosts will be boosted by a raucous crowd in Zagreb.
“Home advantage is massive,” Bates said. “The Davis Cup atmosphere is unlike anything you’ll ever experience if you can get the crowd going.
“Choosing the surface makes a massive difference as well. If Great Britain play at home over the summer we always play on grass and when we’re away we are almost always put on clay.
"Home advantage is a huge thing and that’s why the team has done well because we’ve had so many home ties.
“However you have to say that the Croatia team is massively weaker and it’s a great opportunity for Great Britain. It’s not going to be easy but the fact that Cilic isn’t going to be playing is a big advantage.”
Croatia have suffered so much from injuries that US Open Boys' champion Borna Coric, 16, has been given a key role, despite having never played a five-set match.
Murray, making his first appearance in the competition for two years, will look bounce back from the disappointment of being knocked out in the quarter-finals of the US Open by Stanislas Wawrinka last week.
However Bates believes Murray could profit from the days of extra preparation on clay, a surface he has struggled on during his career.
“The benefit is he has spent more time on the clay but obviously players at that level can adjust to the surfaces very quickly and very easily and he wouldn’t have any problems doing that.
“Andy is back because we haven’t been in the World Group for many years and it’s a great opportunity. It’s partly because it’s worked in his schedule and it’s a reasonable time for him to come and play the matches but also because of the enormity of the match.
“It’s one of the biggest matches that GB have had in many years. I think he’s very proud to play in the Davis Cup. It’s going to be an exciting weekend.”
You can watch the Davis Cup World Group play-off between Croatia and Great Britain LIVE on British Eurosport and on the Eurosport Player from Friday to Sunday, with programmes starting at 9:45am UK time.
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- Andy Murray
- Great Britain
- Marin Cilic