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Last Updated: Monday, 24 September 2007, 07:21 GMT 08:21 UK
Life after Henman
Caroline Cheese
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Tim Henman pumps his fists at Wimbledon
18: Andy Murray
130: Alex Bogdanovic
226: Jamie Baker
241: Richard Bloomfield
376: Josh Goodall
385: Jonny Marray

Tim Henman signed off his 14-year career by leading Great Britain back into the Davis Cup elite, but the question now is can they stay there without him?

Thursday's draw will pit Britain, who have not won a World Group match since 1986, against one of this year's quarter-finalists, including the likes of the USA, Spain, Russia and Argentina.

Without Henman, skipper John Lloyd will rely heavily on Andy Murray, along with his doubles specialist brother Jamie.

Britain's next highest ranked singles player after Andy Murray is Alex Bogdanovic at 130 and there are no other Britons inside the top 200.

It is a familiar story for Britain, who for so long were a two-man team comprising Henman and Greg Rusedski, now also retired.

Andy Murray, who recently expressed concerns about the Davis Cup and its effect on his body, has promised to make himself available for the first-round tie in February.

However, he issued a rallying cry to his compatriots.

"Players that are ranked around the 200s should be thinking, I've got a great chance of playing Davis Cup for my country," said the 20-year-old.

"I would hope that's a huge motivation for that crop of players."

Tim Henman says goodbye to the Wimbledon crowd
Henman's departure will increase expectations on Andy Murray

Rusedski believes the system is now in place that will produce strength in depth in five years' time but until then, he says, "somebody is going to have to step up".

Who that someone is remains to be seen.

Bogdanovic is unquestionably gifted but he has struggled to cope with the pressure of representing his country, so the player in pole position at the moment appears to be Jamie Baker.

Ranked 226 in the world, Baker was part of the four-man squad at Wimbledon and played the final match, losing 6-4 6-4 to rising teenage star Marin Cilic.

Baker is highly-regarded by the team. Henman and Murray have both been fulsome in their praise for the 21-year-old, while Lloyd believes he "gets" Davis Cup.

The Scot told BBC Sport he had relished the opportunity to play the fifth rubber against Cilic - even though Britain had already wrapped up victory in the tie.

"I know in the past players haven't been motivated to play dead rubbers," he said.

"But for me there's nothing better than being given the opportunity to play in that kind of environment.

The pressure is now on Andy big time, but I think he can handle it

GB captain John Lloyd

"The way I see it, sooner or later I'm going to be playing a live rubber so the more experience I can get the better chance I have of winning.

"There's now a massive motivation in these next four, five months not just to get my ranking up, but to prove to John that I am ready to be in a match as big as February's."

What could help Baker is the bond he has forged with Henman since the pair trained together for a two-week spell.

"To have him as a part of my life, not just this idol somewhere on TV, it's been massive for me," he said.

"He's been in all these amazing matches and situations, all things I'm aspiring to do.

"Whenever he opens his mouth it carries a lot of meaning because I know what he's done. We'll keep in touch, definitely."

Argentina (away)
Spain (away)
Sweden (away)
USA (away)
Germany (home)
France (home)
Russia (venue decided by lot)
Belgium (by lot)

Despite Baker's encouraging attitude, he is a long way from his immediate goal of the top 100 and Lloyd does not hide from the fact that Murray will carry the team's hopes in the near future.

"Andy is going to have to play top-10 players and win those matches," said the British captain.

"When you're number one in your country, that's what you have to do. The pressure is now on Andy big time, but I think he can handle it."

Handle it he will have to - and even then it might not be enough if Britain are handed a dreaded away trip to Argentina or Spain.

Youngsters lack desire - Henman
17 Sep 07 |  Tennis


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