Facing Spaniards is never easy, especially in Spain and on their beloved clay. That is the ultimate challenge Great Britain faces when the Davis Cup team will be attempting to make the quarterfinal stage of the World Group for the fifth successive year.
The 2015 champions have been ultra reliable at the highest level of the Davis Cup but this may be their toughest task yet. Great Britain must win the tie in order to guarantee themselves a spot in the 2019 World Group. It is possible, but it will be no easy feat when you consider the teams on paper.
Kyle Edmund was incredible in the Australian Open and it seems his exploits have taken a toll on his young body. After enduring two five-set matches in the heat of the day, a hip injury restricted him in his first Grand Slam semifinal against Marin Cilic. As a result, Edmund is unlikely to play, which opens the door of opportunity for Liam Broady and Cameron Norrie.
Two weeks ago, Liam Broady was playing a British Tour event at Bath University, and on Friday he will be kicking off proceedings in the first round of the Davis Cup. His opponent will be seasoned clay court player and last years Monte Carlo finalist, Albert Ramos-Vinolas–who is ranked 144 places above Broady. It will be extremely difficult for the 24 year old from Stockport to win a set in this battle of the left-handers but we all know how Davis Cup can transform players so do not write him off just yet.
Cameron Norrie will face an equally tough opponent in Roberto Bautista Agut, a player who as cemented himself in the top twenty for the past few years. Norrie is a relatively new name in top-level tennis because he only turned professional last June (though he was a very successful college tennis player in the United States). Since then he has rocketed up the rankings, claiming three Challenger titles along the way. He has won a lot of matches of late and could muster a fight against the experienced Spaniard.
The most likely rubber for Great Britain to win will be the doubles, where they have a solid team that has a wealth of experience at the highest level of Davis Cup. The touch of Jamie Murray combines beautifully with the power of Dom Inglot to create a formidable force for the Brits. Pablo Carreno Busta and Feliciano Lopez will take on the British duo in what is a must-win rubber for the 2015 champions.
Although he is doubtful to even play, I suspect Kyle Edmund will be picked to play on the final day if it comes to it. The Australian Open semifinalist has a brutal forehand and his favoured surface is clay so the Spanish team will be highly motivated to get the job done in two days.
Great Britain have produced some magical moments in Davis Cup lately. Their run to the title in 2015 will live long in the memory of British tennis fans. However, this tie against Spain on clay will be their toughest test in a long time.
The Spanish team go into this tie as overwhelming favourites but it is far from a foregone conclusion. I see Spain winning the tie 3-1 with Great Britain claiming the doubles rubber.