At some point this week GB’s Davis Cup coach Leon Smith will have to decide whether it will be James Ward or Kyle Edmund who gets a stab at Davis Cup glory, as Great Britain face Belgium in the final beginning Friday.
Great Britain is vying for a first-time win since 1936, a distant 79 years ago, and Smith knows he must play the better man to boost their chances.
The Murray brothers have been safely given the go-ahead, but back-up singles contenders James Ward and Kyle Edmund – along with doubles specialist Dominic Inglot – will have to wait.
James Ward has had an up-and-down year, helping the team in victories against the USA and France earlier this year, where he recorded the biggest win of his career after triumphing in a five-set battle over John Isner.
The 28-year-old also made it to the third round of Wimbledon for the first time, where he was knocked out in five sets by Vasek Pospisil. Despite this he was ranked in the top 100 players, at a career-high ranking of 89.
Since Wimbledon, however, Ward’s season has taken a sour turn. Suffering nine successive defeats, he was thrust aside in the Davis Cup semi-final against Australia in favour of 300th ranked Dan Evans, who ironically lost his match against Bernard Tomic.
So what could Kyle Edmund bring to the table?
The 20-year-old has broken into the world’s top 150 this season for the first time, achieving a career-high of 121. At the French Open, he recorded his first ever opening-round win against Stephane Robert, but was denied a scintillating set-up against tennis’ bad boy Nick Kyrgios due to a stomach injury.
Not only that, but the South African-born player recently won a Challenger Tour title on the same surface to be used at the Flanders Expo this week, and that could make him the front-runner for captain Leon Smith.
If Smith were to pick Edmund he would become only the sixth player to make his Davis Cup debut in a final, a huge burden to carry for the youngster, especially with the knowledge that the previous five players all lost their openers.
Either Smith sticks to the more experienced Ward despite a dip in form of late, or takes a chance on a thriving Edmund to shine in his first ever Davis Cup appearance.
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