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Page last updated at 16:38 GMT, Saturday, 7 March 2009

Britain slump to Davis Cup defeat

Highlights - GB sent crashing by Ukraine

Great Britain slumped to Davis Cup defeat against Ukraine as Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins lost a keenly-fought doubles rubber on Saturday.

The battling 4-6 6-3 3-6 7-5 4-6 loss to Sergei Bubka and Sergiy Stakhovsky gave Ukraine an unassailable 3-0 lead in the Euro/Africa Zone Group One tie.

Sunday's final two matches will now be dead rubbers.

Great Britain face a relegation play-off against Poland in September to stay in the second tier.

"We were not quite good enough," GB captain John Lloyd told BBC Sport. "It's a disappointing loss but the better team won, it's as simple as that.

We don't have enough players to complement Andy Murray

GB Davis Cup skipper John Lloyd
"They put up a good fight against a high-class team and just came short by a fraction. We have got to rebuild and look to September now."

And Lloyd admitted that Great Britain struggle without world number four Andy Murray, who missed this tie because of a virus.

"We when we have our number one player we are a solid Group One team with an outside chance of making it into the World Group," he added. "But without him it's going to be tough going.

"This week, the experience we have had with the players in the doubles and singles will move them up another level and we have got to keep pushing them until we have number twos and doubles that can win these matches.

"The players now realise the work they have got to put in to be at this level and play in this type of competition.

"They did pretty well. They didn't win but there were glimpses of some good stuff. There were encouraging bits for me.

We weren't good enough - Lloyd

"We can produce some players but we don't have the depth. We don't have enough players to complement Andy Murray. We need more players in the top 100, that's our goal.

"Players have got to be hungrier, in the past it's been a bit too easy. It's a much tougher regime now and hopefully we will see some results. We have to keep working at it, there is no easy way."

The hosts had a mountain to climb to keep the tie alive after Josh Goodall and Chris Eaton lost their singles rubbers on Friday.

History was not on their side as Britain have only once fought back from 2-0 down in their Davis Cup history - and that way back in 1930.

It looked ominous when Ukraine took the first set with little trouble, Bubka firing a service return down the line to seal the solitary break in the fifth game.

Stakhovsky (left) and Bubka celebrate their doubles win in Glasgow
Stakhovsky (left) and Bubka celebrate their doubles win in Glasgow
But Fleming and Hutchins, who have world doubles rankings of 289 and 44 respectively, started to grow in confidence in the second set and were given the chance to claim their first break when Bubka somehow managed to hit a smash into the net from close range.

Stakhovsky double faulted on the next point to put Britain 5-3 ahead and the match was levelled when Fleming, who was working for Scottish Power until a couple of months ago, served to love.

Bubka and Stakhovsky upped the pace in the third set and after they saved break point in the third game, the visitors broke Fleming's serve in the sixth when the 24-year-old found the net.

And Bubka, the son of pole vault legend Sergei, sealed the set with some heavy serving to win the ninth game to love.

The fourth set was a tense affair and, with the Glasgow crowd increasing the volume, Hutchins and Fleming forced two break points as Ukraine served to stay in the set.

And although they saved the first, Stakhovsky put a straightforward volley into the net on the next point to set up the decider.

Britain started well, with debutant Fleming holding comfortably, but Ukraine were handed a break point in the third game when Hutchins double-faulted.

The visitors did not need a second invitation and Stakhovsky's convincing smash put the visitors in charge.

Ukraine forced two match points in the ninth game, with the help of two wonderful backhands from Bubka, and although Britain managed to save both, the end was not long in coming.

It was left to Bubka to complete the win as another booming serve gave Ukraine their first victory over the hosts.

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see also
Davis Cup photos
07 Mar 09 |  Tennis
Britain face Davis Cup struggle
06 Mar 09 |  Tennis

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