By Alessandro Mastroluca
- Great Britain need to beat Belgium, who defeated Moldova 3-0 in the opening tie, to maintain reasonable chances to move to the quarter-finals
- Cameron Norrie will open the tie against Steve Darcis, who will retire from tennis after the Australian Open later this month
- Dan Evans faces the tougher task against World No.11 David Goffin, then Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury will complete the tie in the key doubles rubber
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – Great Britain will face Belgium aiming to react from the 2-1 defeat to Bulgaria. Cameron Norrie will meet Steve Darcis, Dan Evans will face David Goffin.
Having lost to Bulgaria in their opening tie, that finished at 2.47 am, Great Britain need to bounce back from defeat to maintain reasonable hopes to stay in Sydney for the knockout stages. In the same Ken Rosewall Arena, the British team will face Belgium who claimed a 3-0 win over Moldova, receiving an apology after the Romanian anthem was played before the tie.
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Cameron Norrie v Steve Darcis
Cameron Norrie will meet Steve Darcis, who is retiring after this year’s Australian Open, for the first time. As reported by the Guardian, the British No.2 found the court “extremely slow”. His peculiar game could benefit from these conditions, as it happened against the stubborn world No 423 Dimitar Kuzmanov.
Against Darcis’ backhand slices, Norrie will need to stay patient and build the point from the back, using his lefty topspin forehands to move his opponent. The Belgian is 20-21 against left-handers in the ATP Tour. He struggled to cover the court in defence during his first match, so Norrie could create a competitive edge by changing the pace and counter-attacking him.
Both players will aim to raise their level after a winning but not completely convincing debut matches. The British No.2 however should take advantage of his complete game against his older opponent.
Prediction: Norrie in three sets
Dan Evans v David Goffin
The British No.1 has a more reliable second serve, according to the ATP Leaderboard, but this time he will face the seventh-best returner in the ATP Tour during the last 52 weeks.
Against Grigor Dimitrov, Evans managed to drill higher balls to the Bulgarian’s backhand, trying to neutralise one of his most consistent weapons, particularly in the first part of the match.
Facing Goffin, he will need more consistency to apply his game-plan properly. Both players rely on a creative game, need longer rallies to outmanoeuvred their opponents. The Brit will probably take more risks with his first strokes after serve and return against the Belgian. Being one of the lighter players on the tour, Goffin can count on his speed and his sense of anticipation to steer the ball away from Evans. With his fluid movement, he can turn defence into offence in the blink of an eye.
Evans will need to be solid from the beginning to the match and craftily work to steer the ball away from the most obvious spots to control the point. Easier to be said than done.
Prediction: Goffin in two sets
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Doubles: Jamie Murray/Joe Salisbury v. Sander Gille/Joran Vliegen (players subject to change)
Dimitrov – and his sizzling return to save match point was not bad, either. The British pair, playing together for the first time, intermittently clicked but Dimitrov sealed a sizzling return to save a match point and Murray left Lazarov’s blistering backhand down the line in the final point of the clash.
Belgium announced Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen, the same couple that clinched the doubles rubber against Moldova in the first day. Last season, they partnered together throughout the year, winning three titles in Bastad, Gstaad, and Zhuhai.
Murray, annoyed by the late finish of the match against Bulgaria, is the best doubles player among them. He could make the difference, without the lapses that condemned Great Britain in the opening tie.
Prediction: Great Britain def. Belgium 2-1
Norrie is expected to start at 5:30pm (6:30am GMT), with Evans scheduled not before 7pm (8am) followed by the doubles.
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