Davis Cup 2019: Andy Murray's fitness means Leon Smith must make big call for GB vs Germany QF
Great Britain face Germany in the last eight of the Davis Cup Finals on Friday, live on Eurosport, but will Andy Murray play a part?
Andy Murray of Great Britain speaks to Great Britain captain Leon Smith during his Davis Cup Group Stage match against Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands during Day Three of the 2019 Davis Cup at La Caja Magica
Kyle Edmund won the opening rubber before Britain were pegged back when Alexander Bublik overcame Dan Evans in three sets.
However, Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski confirmed GB’s spot in the quarter-finals with a swift 6-1 6-4 victory over Mikhail Kukushkin and Bublik in just 71 minutes.
Andy Murray had played, and won, in their opening group game against the Netherlands, but laboured to a 6-7 (7) 6-4 7-6 (5) win against 179th-ranked Tallon Griekspoor.
Serbia's clash with Russia starts at 09:30 GMT with the matches between Britain and Germany and hosts Spain and Argentina beginning at 16:30 GMT
The former world No 1 admitted he was carrying some weight going into the match, leaving captain Leon Smith with a big decision to make regarding his quarter-final line-up.
Murray will be vying for one of two singles spots along with Evans and Edmund before Jamie Murray and Skupski presumably continue their doubles partnership after two wins from two.
“I told you guys I wasn’t feeling in the best shape coming in, and it showed a little bit in the match,” Andy Murray said.
“The weight and things like that, that’s my fault. I won’t put myself in that position again.
“If you’re weighing four or five kilos more than you’re used to, that is probably going to affect how you feel moving around the court.”
In Germany, GB are likely to come up against Jan-Lennard Struff and Philipp Kohlschreiber in the singles, with Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies their doubles pair of choice.
Kohlschreiber has won both of his singles ties so far, against Nicolas Jarry (Chile) and Guido Pella (Argentina), while Struff beat Diego Schwartzman before losing to Cristian Garin.
Krawietz and Mies are unbeaten, having won their doubles match against Argentina’s Maximo Gonzalez and Leonardo Mayer thanks to a 20-18 win in the third-set tie-break.
For Kohlschreiber, Murray would be his desired opponent of choice come Friday evening.
“Lately [Murray] also won a tournament again so he knows or he gets back the winning taste for titles,” Kohlschreiber said.
“We all know maybe he’s not there what he was before but still he’s mentally, the fighting spirit is still Andy Murray.
“He’s still very strong but I would love to play against him. I think it’s going to be a great tennis match. Playing for your country is always very special and we would love to enjoy it.”
Novak and Nadal in action
Friday’s action will kick off half-an-hour earlier than they have done thus far after schedulers brought the timings forward.
Britain's tie with the Netherlands on Wednesday lasted almost nine hours and caused a two-hour delay to the start time of the evening match.
It was a similar story on Court 2 where Italy and the United States finished their tie at the ludicrous time of 04:00 local time. The previous evening, Spain's clash with Russia ended close to 02:00.
Rafael Nadal – who is set to feature for Spain against Argentina on Friday afternoon - said the late finishes made trouble for players and fans while captain Sergi Bruguera said something would have to be done.
"You cannot finish the games at two in the morning. This must be adjusted next time."
Meanwhile, Serbia's Novak Djokovic – in action early on Friday against Russia - had some sympathy.
"With the rest between matches and the singles players, double players, ceremonies, and all these different things that are part of the protocol, it's always going to be very complicated to get everything done on time," he said.
Bautista Agut out of Davis Cup after father's death
Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut has withdrawn from the Davis Cup Finals after the death of his father on Thursday.
Bautista Agut played in Spain's victories over Russia and Croatia but left the team and returned to Castellon after the health of his father Joaquin deteriorated.
Bautista Agut, who reached this year's Wimbledon semi-finals, lost his mother suddenly in 2018.
Hosts Spain play Argentina on Friday at Madrid's La Caja Magica for a place in the semi-finals.
Feliciano Lopez, Marcel Granollers and Pablo Carreno Busta are Spain's other options to share the singles load with world number one Rafael Nadal.