Daily Express

SWITCH HITTERS

Skipper Smith wants review of rules after late Spanish change

- From Neil McLeman in Madrid

GREAT BRITAIN captain Leon Smith has called for a rule review after Spain changed their Davis Cup team just five minutes before the start of the semi-finals.

Kyle Edmund faced left-hander Feliciano Lopez instead of Pablo Correna Busta. Dan Evans called the late switch “a little naughty” while Edmund claimed it was “mind games”.

Edmund still beat the Spanish veteran Lopez only for Smith’s team to suffer a heartbreak­ing loss to the eventual tournament winners in the doubles after Rafael Nadal had beaten Evans 6-4, 6-0. But after Great Britain secured qualificat­ion for next year’s Davis Cup Finals by reaching the last four, Smith said: “Do the rules need looking at? Yeah. I thought it was really late

– that was literally five minutes before.

“It’s not ideal preparatio­n to go into what is a huge match.

“And you know, the whole point when you practise and you go through things and you hand your nomination­s in an hour before the match, that’s pretty much it, isn’t it? He was on the bike warming up beside us at the same time, got off the bike, then the next thing, they’re changing the team. It might be genuine, I don’t know. It might be a freak injury that’s happened. But it’s not ideal.”

Edmund completed a hat-trick of singles wins to confirm his return to the form which took him to the Australian Open semi-finals last year.

He lost eight consecutiv­e matches before the Paris Masters but has now finally thrown off a nagging knee injury and is working with a new coach in Argentinia­n Franco Davin.

From starting the year at world No14, Edmund is now down at No69 and Smith said: “He’ll be disappoint­ed with how his year’s gone obviously, and then you look at the player he’s been in Paris and the player he’s been here.

“He should be extremely motivated about what’s possible for him to move back up the rankings. Because there’s so much in his game and he looks like he’s in a good place, got a new coaching team.

“So I expect to see some really good progress from him.”

Yet Edmund and doubles star Neal Skupski will not play in the ATP Cup in January because they do not qualify through the rankings. Skupski and Jamie Murray won their first two decisive doubles matches in Madrid – and only lost to Spain in the semis after two tight tie-breaks.

The Scot said: “Obviously I’d rather play with Neal because he’s my partner, and it’s preparatio­n for the Australian Open.”

Andy Murray will be back in London today for the premier of his Amazon Prime film Resurfacin­g. Smith said: “Andy will go on his journey of coming back and keep building momentum, which is going to be exciting to see.”

Nadal beat Denis Shapovalov 6-3, 7-6 to seal victory for Spain in the final against Canada. Roberto Bautista Agut had put Spain 1-0 ahead with a 7-6, 6-3 victory over Felix Auger-Aliassime.

❑ A WORLD record tennis crowd of 42,517 saw Roger Federer beat Alex Zverev in an exhibition match in Mexico City. The previous record of 35,681 was for an exhibition game between Belgian Kim Clijsters and Serena Williams in Belgium in 2010.

It was five minutes before – not ideal preparatio­n for a huge match

 ??  ?? SHAKE ON IT Leon Smith with Rafael Nadal after the Spaniard’s win over Dan Evans
SHAKE ON IT Leon Smith with Rafael Nadal after the Spaniard’s win over Dan Evans
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