By Ros Satar, in Belgrade
- Kyle Edmund v Janko Tipsarevic
- James Ward v Dusan Lajovic
BELGRADE, SERBIA – British No. 2 Kyle Edmund is ready to carry the hopes of the British Team in their quarter-final tie, away to Serbia.
As the scorching weather of their training days faded to overcast skies and spots of rain, Edmund got his first taste of what British Tennis will be like, post Andy Murray.
With both teams without the World Nos. 1 and 2 in their midst, it is up to the players who have followed in their wake to step out of the shadows.
With the resurgent Dan Evans out with a shoulder injury, James Ward has been pulled from his last stirrings on grass and is back on the clay, and was practicing under the watching, perhaps even slightly envious eye of Murray at the Tasmajdan Stadium in Belgrade.
Kyle Edmund v Janko Tipsarevic
But first up will be Edmund, facing a veritably hero of Serbian Davis Cup ties, Tipsarevic.
The Serb has had a torrid time with injuries, first with a foot injury that kept him off the tour for the entire 2014 season, and then a knee injury on his comeback in 2015. His last match last year was a first round five-set loss to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and then he was off the tour until late April, pitching in at Challengers and a couple of main draw tour level events.
His only back to back win was at the Prostejov Challenger but he did manage a win over former Queen’s champion Grigor Dimitrov in the lead up to Wimbledon.
Edmund has kept a mix of Challengers and Tour events this year, and has made some progress for sure, but there is always room for more. His best results have been on the clay, especially at the lower tier, and he had the vastly more experienced David Goffin at the Davis Cup final before stamina and a lack of experience told.
The pair have never met but this is an extremely tough ask once more for the Yorkshire-man. He has learned a lot since that baptism of fire in Ghent, and even had the temerity to take a set of Murray in the quarter-final of Queen’s before a very disappointing first round loss at Wimbledon.
Tipsarevic is no stranger at all to the legendary Davis Cup five set thriller – the question will be has he got the stamina to be dragged to five sets by Edmund.
In the Draw press-conference, the Serbian joked: “He broke through in the two years when I was basically in hibernation. I know he can play on clay. He’s definitely not your cliché British player that can only play on grass or hard courts. He’s like 12 years old, very, very young, and he has a bright future. This is a chance for him to say, ‘Okay, this is not only an Andy Murray team, I can also beat some good players’.”
But perhaps we should take comfort from the fact that Edmund was all business.
“As long I can feel I’m improving, I’m happy with that so I feel already this year I’ve made good progress on the tour level. Last year I played a lot of Challengers, this year I’ve played more tour level matches.
“I feel I’m getting more comfortable at that level and trying to find out where I am. I see this as another good opportunity to me playing a guy like Janko is obviously very experienced.
“[He’s] been Top 10 in the world. He’s had the feeling of winning Davis Cup, so he will be tough to beat, I respect him but for me I just have to go out there and focus on playing my game and if I do that I get my best chance of winning.”
James Ward v Dusan Lajovic
This will be another first time meeting, but there is possibly more at stake for Ward. Still recovering from the tragic death of his coach Darren Tandy at the end of last year, it is a far cry from his Top 100 breaking start to GB’s last quarter-final against France in 2015.
There he was full of optimism that he would be able to kick on, but has since fallen to 240 in the world and will be facing the World No. 81.
However, much like Tipsarevic in his hey day, there is something about Davis Cup that brings out the best in the lanky Londoner. He was part of the squad that turned around a 2-0 deficit to Russia back in 2013, and stunned Sam Querrey in the first round tie on clay in the US.
He was all set to play in Newport, before getting the nod to replace the injured Evans and in early practice as the weather cooled, he looked to be focussed and moving well.
That being said, his clay court results this year have only a run to the Tallahassee Challenger quarter-final to boast with a disappointing first round loss in the Roland Garros qualies as his last outing on the dirt.
Prediction – with sheer tenacity, Edmund could win over the match-unfit Tipsarevic but even with his history of Davis cup heroics, Ward will most likely struggle against the more consistent Lajovic.
Serbia v Great Britain starts at 4pm (3pm BST).
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