Great Britain vs Serbia Davis Cup Preview: Without Murray and Novak, who will shine?

Neither Andy Murray or Novak Djokovic will be playing in the quarter-final clash in Belgrade.

Great Britain vs Serbia Davis Cup Preview: Without Murray and Novak, who will shine?
(Picture from Davis Cup.com)

Great Britain’s Davis Cup team will be without the talismanic figure of Andy Murray for the first time in over three years, when they take on Serbia in the quarter-final this weekend.

Murray hasn’t missed a tie for Britain since they beat Russia back in April 2013, but won’t be available for selection following his triumph at Wimbledon less than a week ago.

It’s a choice which captain Leon Smith has called ‘the right decision’ and the British number one has still flown out to Belgrade to support his teammates, with whom he won the giant trophy last year, because he still feels a "responsibility" to the team.

World number one Novak Djokovic will also be absent for the Serbians following his abrupt third round exit at the All England Club, when he was toppled by the giant American Sam Querrey.

Schedule in question

It therefore leaves an awkward situation and once again brings into question the ridiculous scheduling of the prestigious competition, which will feature just one top ten player this weekend (Jo Wilfred Tsonga of France).

A heavyweight clash between Murray and Djokovic, both playing for their countries, would be a spectacle to savour. But how is that possible when both the quarter and semi-final fixtures come just a week after Grand Slam events - the most demanding tournaments on the calendar. Throw in the change of surface and the fact there is an Olympic Games on the horizon and you soon get the picture.

In Murray’s absence Britain will be relying on 21-year-old Kyle Edmund, who at 67 in the world is the highest ranked singles player on either side.

Murray is still in Belgrade to support the team (Picture from Davis Cup)
Murray is still in Belgrade to support the team (Picture from Davis Cup)

Edmund made his Davis Cup debut in the final of last year’s competition, when he won the opening two sets against Belgium’s David Goffin before going down in five on the clay in Gent.

Who will play bar Edmund?

The British number three will fancy his chances on the same surface this weekend, when he opens proceedings against the lowly-ranked but highly experienced Janko Tipsarevic.

Tipsarevic, aged 32, has been ranked as high as eight in the world back in 2012, but has suffered with a series of knee and foot injuries in the past twelve months and hasn’t won an ATP Tour match for over a year.

Serbia will also be without world number 32 Viktor Troicki so Dusan Lajovic, at 81 in the world, will be their highest ranked singles player.

Lajovic will take on British number five James Ward in the second singles match tomorrow, after Dan Evans also withdrew with a shoulder injury.

Ward has slipped down the rankings and outside the top 200 following a tough and injury-troubled year, which followed a run to the third round at Wimbledon 12 months ago.

Even so Ward has played the best tennis of his career for his country in this competition, in which he has beaten the likes of Querrey and John Isner.

Britain will go into Saturday’s doubles rubber as the slight favourites, with Jamie Murray and Dom Inglot both ranked inside the games top 30.

They are down to face Nenad Zimonjic and Tipsarevic before the reverse singles on Sunday.

Murray’s withdrawal will no doubt be a disappointment amongst fans and players alike. Even so this is the perfect opportunity to prove that Britain are more than just a one man team.