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Page last updated at 16:26 GMT, Friday, 9 July 2010 17:26 UK

Great Britain close in on Davis Cup victory

Davis Cup Europe/Africa Group II play-off: Great Britain v Turkey
Date: 9-11 July Venue: Devonshire Park, Eastbourne
Coverage: Reports on the BBC Sport website; also live on British Eurosport 2


James Ward
Ward beat a player ranked almost 200 places above him

Great Britain are one victory away from beating Turkey in their Davis Cup relegation tie thanks to wins for Jamie Baker and James Ward.

Baker, 23, gave the team the perfect start with a 6-1 6-4 6-1 victory against world number 866 Ergun Zorlu.

Ward, also 23, followed up with a surprisingly easy 6-2 7-5 6-7 (0-7) 6-1 success against Marsel Ilhan, who is ranked almost 200 places above him.

Britain must win to avoid falling into the bottom tier of the Davis Cup.

And they will wrap up the tie on Saturday if Colin Fleming and Ken Skupski beat Ilhan and Haluk Akkoyun in the doubles.

BEN DIRS BLOG

Baker, the world 253, demonstrated his superiority early in the opening match, breaking Zorlu twice to take the first set.

After a trickier second set, the Scot broke on a further three occasions in the third for a straight-sets victory.

Baker, whose only previous Davis Cup victory came against Argentina's Agustin Calleri in 2008 in a tie that was already lost, revealed he was nervous before the match.

"It's so good to be playing Davis Cup matches again - better than regular tournaments," he said.

"I was slightly nervous and didn't get a great night's sleep, but once I got into the match I hit some inspirational shots."

Ward, ranked 301 in the world, had beaten Ilhan twice in ATP qualifying events but was expected to be given a tougher workout by the higher-ranked player.

I got an early break in the fourth and that was important

Great Britain's James Ward

The Londoner broke the Turk in the first game of the first set before his opponent levelled straight away.

But with the scores at 3-2, Ward took the second of two more break points before sealing the set in the eighth with a break to love.

Ilhan broke early in the second, but Ward secured his own in the sixth game and then took the second of three break points in the 12th game after the Turk netted.

Another error in the fourth game of the third set from Ilhan saw the Turk broken again. Ward now looked set to secure victory in the ninth game but he failed to hold serve.

The 23-year-old then had two match points on Ilhan's serve, but the first was saved after the Briton's forehand was too long before the Turk saved the second with an ace.

And Ilhan went on to take the third set in style with a 7-0 whitewash in the tie-break.

The 23-year-old Turk was expected to continue the fightback in the fourth set but instead found himself a double break down.

Although Ilhan broke back, Ward broke once again and then held serve before sealing victory in the seventh game when he forced Ilhan into making an error on his forehand.

To go 2-0 up on day one is obviously a perfect start but I had every confidence James could win that match

GB coach Leon Smith

"I played a good match from the start," said Ward.

"I had a little blip in the third serving for it and then he played a good tie-break. But I got an early break in the fourth and that was important."

British number one Andy Murray has chosen to take a break from the Davis Cup while number two Alex Bogdanovic also opted not to take part in the tie, which is Leon Smith's first as captain.

Smith was delighted with his team after the first day.

"To go 2-0 up on day one is obviously a perfect start but I had every confidence James could win that match," he said.

"He's beaten him twice and James has been practising superbly all week. He's been nothing short of fantastic so I felt good about today."

Great Britain have suffered five straight defeats in the Davis Cup as they have fallen from the World Group to Europe/Africa Zone Group II.



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see also
Bogdanovic to miss Davis Cup tie
08 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Smith names first Davis Cup team
29 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Skupski targets Davis Cup success
06 Jul 10 |  Tennis


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