Murray-less Britain still optimistic ahead of Davis Cup quarterfinal with France

Kyle Edmund keen to be Great Britain's main man on clay in France Davis Cup tie

Kyle Edmund keen to be Great Britain's main man on clay in France Davis Cup tie

Edmund, the world No 47, had earlier lost to Lucas Pouille 7-5, 7-6 (8-6), 6-3 in what had been regarded as a pivotal match if Great Britain, underdogs on the indoor clay of Rouen, were to have any chance this weekend.

Great Britain Davis Cup captain Leon Smith acknowledges his troops will have to do things the hard way after back-to-back defeats in the quarter-finals against France in Rouen. World No. 6 Milos Raonic, who rarely plays in the Davis Cup and once described himself as "the chief executive officer of Milos Raonic tennis", is surely the ultimate example.

Evans avoided the surface altogether during his stellar rise up the rankings previous year and his only tour-level win on the red stuff came in a Davis Cup dead rubber in Croatia in 2013.

Evans is ranked 24 places higher than Chardy - the French number nine at 68 - but that was the only case for making him the favourite.

"We were all part of the university tennis club and Judy Murray [the mother of Andy and Jamie who has links with Stirling] suggested we might get a group together and to try to create a bit more atmosphere when the team were playing at the Braehead Arena [in Glasgow]".

Smith tried to inspire Evans by consulting Tim Henman, who, like the Birmingham player, had a game much more suited to fast surfaces but reached the French Open semi-finals in 2004.

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Rondon is expected to start at Vicarage Road tomorrow night after Robson-Kanu was preferred at Old Trafford on Saturday. Their resilience and commitment was fantastic. "We are not interested in these stories, they are just rumours.

The two sides are deprived of their biggest stars, with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet all absent for the hosts while Andy Murray misses out for Britain.

Their leading doubles team of Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert, meanwhile, has been broken up by injury to the latter. "I'm very happy and I hope we go through tomorrow".

"They've got incredible strength and depth but anything is possibly really".

"Kyle started well and looked really confident on the court, but Pouille did a good job at getting back in the first set and starting to establish his authority", said Smith. They're missing a few players, we're missing our number one player as well. It's not like we're having to make up huge ranking deficits. It is on Saturday at 13.10 on BBC One and 16.30 on BBC Two.

On the evidence of the first day of this tie, the same could be said of Britain by comparison with France.