British Davis Cup coach Leon Smith claims critics have 'short memories' after France drubbing

Simon Briggs
The Telegraph
Leon Smith, the Great Britain Davis Cup captain - Getty Images Europe
Leon Smith, the Great Britain Davis Cup captain - Getty Images Europe

The British Davis Cup captain Leon Smith expressed his disappointment on Sunday at what he felt was an unnecessarily negative reception to his team’s near-whitewash at the hands of France.

Defeat in Saturday’s doubles rubber consigned Great Britain to a 3-0 defeat and rendered Sunday’s reverse singles matches irrelevant. But Smith was more concerned that his players had received insufficient credit for reaching the quarter-finals in the World Group – an achievement that would have been welcomed with fanfare in the early stages of his captaincy.

“It’s quite interesting to find there was a bit of negativity in some ways,” he said. “I find that quite surprising. I think people have short memories of what it was like four, five years ago. I think people can take a look at themselves.

“We’ve got Kyle [Edmund] on the way up, and Evo [Dan Evans] has found his life on the tour now.

“They’re both in the top 50, hopefully they can keep pushing on. And then there’s obviously Andy Murray, Johanna Konta and so on. The big difference in our nation compared to the big hitters is that France have 19 in the top 100. We’ve got four in the top 100 and then that’s it, none from 100 to 200.

<span>Kyle Edmund in action for Britain against Jeremy Chardy</span> <span>Credit: Rex Features </span>
Kyle Edmund in action for Britain against Jeremy Chardy Credit: Rex Features

“It’s always a thing that’s debated. Is it down to performance teams? Is it down to club culture? You can keep going but it’s just an endless debate. The bottom line is it would be nice to have more depth.”

Smith also suggested that there was a good chance of a Davis Cup return by Andy Murray in their next tie in February 2018. Murray – who will face Roger Federer tonight in an exhibition, the Match for Africa 3 in Zurich – has been bedevilled by injury and illness all season, and has not appeared in either of Great Britain’s ties of 2017, the first-round victory over Canada and this mismatch at Rouen’s Kindarena.

But Smith stressed Murray’s disappointment at being forced to skip this tie by an elbow injury, while also pointing out that imminent Davis Cup reforms – which will reduce singles matches to best-of-three sets – will make the physical commitment less strenuous.

“I know how much Andy missed this one,” said Smith. “I am sure he will be back. He’s always liked team events. If they [the International Tennis Federation] make changes that work well, it becomes even more attractive to play.”

In the other quarter-finals, Serbia finished Spain off in equally short order with a 3-0 win on Saturday, and will travel to France for September’s semi-finals. And Nick Kyrgios was the home hero for Australia in a fine 3-2 win over the United States in Brisbane. Their opponents in the last four will be Belgium, who beat Italy 3-2 in Charleroi.

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