Britain close to redemption after plumbing depths

Thu Nov 26, 2015 10:12am EST
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - John Lloyd will be in the commentary box when Britain face Belgium in tomorrow's Davis Cup final, presumably sitting more comfortably than he was five years ago in Vilnius when the country's fortunes were sinking to a new low.

Then, as captain and with his team heading for a fifth-straight defeat, this time 3-2 against Lithuania, he could only squirm as a gloating fan goaded him about his job prospects.

"There was one chap who weighed about 20 stone and sat on three seats and had a very nice voice, but he started singing from very early on 'John Lloyd you'll be sacked in the morning'," Lloyd said in a BBC radio program charting Britain's fall and rise in the prestigious team event this week.

"At one stage I wanted to get a ball and aim it at his head. I wouldn't have thought we had many worse matches than that."

There have been plenty to choose from, too, in the 37 years since Britain last reached the final, against the U.S. when former Australian Open runner-up Lloyd was demolished by a rising force named John McEnroe.

There was a 5-0 defeat in Slovakia in 1995 that sent Britain into a Group Two relegation playoff against mighty Monaco and a home defeat by Ecuador in 2000 when rookie Giovanni Lapentti, playing his first match on a grasscourt, sealed their fate.

Or even the humiliating 4-1 home defeat by Zimbabwe in 1997.

Take your pick.   Continued...

Tennis - Belgium v Great Britain - Davis Cup Final - Flanders Expo, Ghent, Belgium - 26/11/15
Great Britain Team Captain Leon Smith (C) poses with Kyle Edmund, Andy Murray, James Ward and Jamie Murray after the draw
Action Images via Reuters / Jason Cairnduff