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Davis Cup Finals 2023: Great Britain face Novak Djokovic’s Serbia in Malaga


Great Britain captain Leon Smith says he can “shout loud and proud” about his team’s strength as they look to beat Serbia – led by Novak Djokovic – for a place in the Davis Cup semi-finals.

Without injured pair Dan Evans and Andy Murray, Britain face Serbia in Malaga from 15:00 GMT on Thursday.

The tie will be shown on BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website and app.

“It’s been a blow losing important players but we’ve also got unbelievable players,” Smith said.

“One of the upsides is there is no ambiguity about the team selection, there is no second guessing.

“We know the team and it takes out the anxiety. Everyone is relaxed, focused and we use that to our advantage.”

Djokovic, 36, is aiming to cap another extraordinary season, which saw him win three majors and lose in the Wimbledon final, with more success in the Davis Cup.

First, Djokovic and his team-mates have to beat Britain – who the 24-time Grand Slam singles champion described as “one of the greatest tennis nations out there”.

“It is a very strong team in this format. It’s difficult for them to choose who to put on the court,” said the world number one.

Britain, who last won the trophy in 2015, reached the Davis Cup knockout stages with a thrilling victory over France in September.

There are expected to be about 5,000 British fans in a near sell-out crowd of 13,000 at the Palacio de Deportes Martin Carpena in Malaga.

If they beat Serbia, Britain will face either Italy or the Netherlands in the semi-finals on Saturday.

The champions of the 123-year-old men’s team event will be decided in Sunday’s showpiece.

Britain show depth after injury blows

Britain initially named the same five-man squad which reached the knockout stage, but have since lost Evans – who was instrumental in their progress from the group stage – and former world number one Murray.

That leaves, barring any more unexpected injury concerns, a straightforward team selection for GB captain Smith.

In a best-of-three tie consisting of two singles matches and a potentially deciding doubles, rising star Jack Draper is likely to start against Laslo Djere before Cameron Norrie – the British number one – faces Djokovic.

If the matches are split, doubles specialists Neal Skupski and Joe Salisbury will aim to put Britain into the semi-finals.

Skupski, who won the Wimbledon title this year, has forged a fruitful partnership with Evans for Great Britain, including winning a tense group-stage decider against France that secured the nation’s place in Malaga.

With Evans ruled out by a calf injury, four-time major champion Salisbury was called up as a replacement and comes into the event having retained the doubles title at the ATP Finals on Sunday.

“We can shout loud and proud about what this team is going to be,” Smith said.

“Gone are the days when we used to go down the rankings for players, we’ve got a really good team.”

With the odds stacked against Norrie when he faces arguably the greatest men’s player of all time, Draper getting off to a winning start in the best-of-three tie feels vital.

Draper, 21, has had an injury-disrupted season but has climbed back up to 60th in the world rankings.

After a productive spell where he has won 17 of his past 21 matches across the ATP and Challenger Tours, Draper says he is feeling “incredibly confident” in his mind and body.

“You get the feeling Jack likes the responsibility, he knows already he is playing a big part of our team and a leading role in the future,” Smith said.

“On ranking he is the underdog but we know Jack’s level. It’s not a 60 in the world player we’re talking about, his ceiling is really high.”

Dominant Djokovic targets another trophy

Novak Djokovic celebrates for Serbia at the Davis Cup
Djokovic has won 39 of his 46 singles matches in the Davis Cup, but has a 4-7 record in the doubles

Despite being in the twilight of his career, Djokovic’s powers are showing little sign of diminishing as he continues to dominate the men’s game.

Djokovic won three of the four Grand Slam singles titles this year, with his only defeat at a major coming in the Wimbledon final.

On Sunday, the world number one further underlined his dominance by rounding off the tour season with a record seventh title at the ATP Finals in Turin.

Now Djokovic is targeting another trophy with Serbia, who won the Davis Cup for the first and only time in 2010.

“It is an important week for us, for our nation. We’ll do our best,” Djokovic said.

“As I said at the beginning of the season, the Davis Cup has been – and is – one of my greatest goals of this season.

“Hopefully I will be able to contribute to a win.”

Who else is playing?

Holders Canada opened the knockout tournament against Finland on Tuesday – but suffered a shock defeat as the Finns, backed by a large expatriate community on the Costa del Spain, reached the semi-finals for the first time.

Australia or the Czech Republic, who are playing on Wednesday, will face them in Friday’s first semi-final.

Hosts Spain did not qualify for the Final Eight after failing to make it out of Group C in September, while the United States – record 32-time winners – also missed out after losing to Finland in their final Group D tie.

Where can I follow the Davis Cup Finals?

You can follow live scores, see the results and read the best stories from the six-day event on the BBC Sport tennis page.

If Great Britain win, they will play in the semi-finals on Saturday at 11:00 GMT. The tie would be available to watch on BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website and app.

The final takes place on Sunday at 15:00 and the BBC will have live coverage whether GB are involved or not.

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