Britain guarded about final Davis Cup lineup

Updated: September 21, 2005, 11:48 AM ET
Reuters

GENEVA -- Britain's Davis Cup captain Jeremy Bates is refusing to be drawn on his starting lineup for this weekend's Davis Cup tie against a Swiss squad spearheaded by world number one Roger Federer.

The 43-year-old former player indicated on Wednesday however that he could rely on substitutions in an effort to eke out some advantage over the much-fancied Swiss as Britain seeks promotion back to the World Group.

Bates will have to name his playing choices for Friday's opening singles matches ahead of Thursday's draw but then has the option to change things around in time for Sunday's last two singles matches.

That means Bates could nominate his team's top player, Greg Rusedski, to play the maximum three matches -- two singles and one doubles -- or spare Rusedski from the singles match against Federer to help save his energy for the 'more winnable' encounters.

"I have the option of starting on Friday with Greg and Andy [Murray], Greg and Alan [Mackin] or with Andy and Alan," Bates told reporters on Wednesday. "I've already made the decision, because I don't like to leave these things to the last minute, but I'm not going to say what that decision is until the draw."

Bates said that he was relishing the tactical nature of the tie -- even though the need for such tactics was only brought about by the decision in January of British top player Tim Henman to retire from Davis Cup tennis.

"It used to be with Tim and Greg in the side that we were virtually forced to name the same two players for all three days' play," Bates said. "That was something I always wanted to get away from though, and now with this team it's pleasant that I can make more tactical choices."

Bates insisted though that his team would not be writing off the two singles matches against Federer -- no matter who they put up against the six-time Grand Slam champion.

"I don't believe in giving up on anything," Bates said. "You have to go out to win, whether you're playing the world number one of the world number 1,000. And although Federer has only lost three times this year, he has lost.

"Having said that, I think that in any Davis Cup tie you look to where your most likely points will come from and where your tougher opposition will be. It's a bit like being a football manager. I have to look to where our best chances are and pick my team around it."

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