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Kyle Edmund keen to be Great Britain's main man against France

Edmund keen to be Britain's main man on clay
By Eurosport

05/04/2017 at 16:14Updated 05/04/2017 at 17:39

Kyle Edmund is hoping to pick up where he left off on clay as Great Britain bid to cause an upset in their Davis Cup quarter-final against France.

Britain beat the French, the country with the greatest strength in depth in men's tennis, at the same stage on the way to their title two years ago.

But, instead of the grass of Queen's Club, this time they must conquer Rouen's indoor clay and do so without world number one Andy Murray, who is resting an elbow injury.

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If they are to win, much will depend on Edmund, the number two player for this tie but much more accomplished on clay than the marginally higher ranked Dan Evans.

Edmund showed his class last summer with Murray again on the sidelines when he won both his singles rubbers to earn victory over Serbia on the same surface in Belgrade.

That was the last time he played on the red stuff, and a repeat this weekend would give Britain a great chance of a third semi-final in succession.

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The 22-year-old, ranked 47, said: "The last time I played on clay was in Serbia - I definitely played some good tennis there so there are lots of good memories.

"This is the first competitive match since then and it has been nine months so I have to get used to the transition from hard to clay. But I am looking forward to it. Whenever you come to Davis Cup you have time to prepare so there are no excuses."

Kyle Edmund

Kyle EdmundAFP

When it was confirmed there would be no Andy Murray in Britain's team - his brother Jamie will again play doubles with Dom Inglot - Britain's chances of victory looked remote at best.

But France are significantly weakened by the absence of Gael Monfils through injury, Richard Gasquet following an appendix operation and new father Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

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Captain Yannick Noah made another change on Wednesday, replacing world number 30 Gilles Simon with 68th-ranked Jeremy Chardy, who will be number two singles player to Lucas Pouille - ranked 17 but with only three Davis Cup rubbers behind him.

Their leading doubles team of Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert, meanwhile, has been broken up by injury to the latter.

The main problem for Britain and captain Leon Smith is the clay-court weakness of Evans, who has not so much as played a match on the surface for nearly two years.

Almost all of his previous experience has been on the Futures Tour, the lowest level of professional tennis, and he has made no secret of his dislike for clay.

Smith said of his team's chances: "They should be favourites as the home team. We're obviously going to have to perform very well over the weekend away from home on their chosen surface, in front of their home fans.

"They've got amazing strength and depth but anything is possibly really. It's not like we're having to make up huge ranking deficits. They're missing a few players, we're missing our number one player as well. "

"I think it is going to be very competitive but obviously we're going to have to perform very well to get through."

There have been a few eyebrows raised at the absence of French number one Tsonga, whose son was born nearly two weeks ago.

Smith said: " First of all, congratulations to Jo. Am I surprised? I don't know. Everyone needs their own time.

"He probably has not played much since Indian Wells and maybe has a slight injury. Parenthood plays a very important part in anyone's life so it is important to be there in the early stages I guess."

The draw takes place on Thursday, with the first singles rubbers contested on Friday afternoon.

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