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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 March, 2005, 16:02 GMT
Bates backs Brits to rejoin elite
ISRAEL 2-3 GREAT BRITAIN
The Great Britain squad celebrate victory over Israel
Great Britain captain Jeremy Bates insisted his side could qualify for the elite World Group after their Davis Cup win over Israel.

Greg Rusedski beat Noam Okun in Sunday's fourth rubber to wrap up a 3-2 win and take Britain into the World Group qualifiers in September.

"I think we can qualify," Bates told BBC Sport. "You get so much confidence from something like this.

"There's plenty of teams out there we can go and beat."

Tim Henman's decision to stop playing in the event means Britain will not be seeded when the draw for the World Group qualifiers is made in May.

Bates' side could be presented with away ties against Spain or the USA, who played each other in the 2004 final.

Other possibilities include trips to Chile or Sweden.

But Bates is confident the blend of Rusedski and a raft of younger players can challenge at the highest level.

The British skipper revealed that 17-year-old Murray would have been selected for the fifth rubber against Israel had it been decisive.

You saw how pumped up Andy was in the doubles and that's what we want to see in Davis Cup
Greg Rusedski

"It was his desire to play," explained Bates. "He wants to play, you can see it in his eyes the way he performed in the week."

With Murray in particular making a huge impression on his Davis Cup debut, Bates ruled out any chance of Henman returning to the team next year.

"I think what Tim has done for British tennis is awesome and everyone's behind him," said Bates.

"But now we've got this opportunity to build with Greg for the next couple of years and for the new boys to take over. "

LTA performance director David Felgate told BBC Sport Henman had been in touch with the team to wish them well and sent a message of congratulations after the victory.

The British number one paid tribute to Rusedski's efforts in particular.

"I felt Britain had an excellent chance going into the tie if Greg could lead by example - and that's exactly what happened," Henman told his official website.

"Greg played really well in both his singles matches. He seemed to enjoy the added responsibility he now has."

Rusedski admitted that he relished the chance to lead the team in Henman's absence.

"It's great to see these youngsters - they've got a lot of energy and a lot of joy," he said.

"A lot of people said we weren't going to win this tie but we won comfortably, so that's very positive.

"You saw how pumped up Andy was in the doubles and that's what we want to see in Davis Cup.

"If they do that week in, week out, with that sort of intensity, they'll do well and the team will do well."


WATCH AND LISTEN
Davis Cup highlights: Israel v GB day three


Interview: Great Britain's Greg Rusedski




SEE ALSO
GB players warned over security
28 Feb 05 |  Tennis
Davis Cup - Israel profiles
01 Mar 05 |  Tennis


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