GREAT Britain will play Russia in a Davis Cup Europe/Africa Zone Group I promotion clash next April after being handed a bye in the first round of the 2013 competition.
• Great Britain only unseeded nation with first-round bye
• Seventh straight home tie for Great Britain
Leon Smith’s side were the only one of the seven unseeded nations to be given a first-round bye when the draw was held in London today but their reward was a tie against the top seeds.
It will be a seventh straight match at home for Britain, who had won five successive ties to go from the verge of relegation to the lowest tier of Davis Cup to within sight of a return to the World Group before losing to Belgium in April.
That defeat, Smith’s first as captain, came without Andy Murray, who has been an intermittent presence in the team over the past few years and did not play in either of the matches last year.
Were the US Open champion to decide to miss the Russia tie as well, Britain would appear to have little chance of winning against a team relegated from the World Group this year and who were champions as recently as 2006.
Russia have five players in the top 100, including world number 25 Mikhail Youzhny and Nikolay Davydenko, while James Ward is the British number two at 209.
Dan Evans was Britain’s hero this year, beating two much-higher ranked players in the win over Slovakia in February, but he has failed to build on those results and is ranked 288th.
All of the last four ties have been played at Glasgow’s Braehead Arena and the Lawn Tennis Association will announce the venue for the Russia tie, to be played on April 5-7, in due course.