Andy Murray is looking forward to taking on one of tennis’ potential future stars to kick off Great Britain’s Davis Cup World Group play-off against Croatia today.
Croatia captain Zeljko Krajan sprang a surprise at the draw in Umag by naming 16-year-old Borna Coric as his No 2 singles player.
That means the teenager, who has a British coach and trains part-time in London, finds himself up against the Wimbledon champion for his first best-of-five-sets match.
Coric is regarded as one of the sport’s brightest young talents and last weekend won the junior title at the US Open nine years after Murray lifted the same trophy.
Murray said: “I haven’t seen Coric play before but plenty of our guys have. He’s very young and is very inexperienced at this level but I’ll be ready for him. I’m looking forward to getting out on the court.”
For the World No 3, it will be a good chance to get the US Open out of his system a week after his disappointing quarter-final defeat by Stanislas Wawrinka.
As expected, Dan Evans was picked as Britain’s No 2 player by captain Leon Smith following his terrific run to the third round in New York.
The 23-year-old is at a new career-high ranking of 149 and will play today’s second singles rubber against Croatian number one Ivan Dodig, ranked 35.
Smith picked both Evans and British No 3 James Ward in his original team.
But, having assessed both on clay in Umag this week, Smith has given Evans the nod and made a change to his four-man team, with Jonny Marray replacing Ward.
Evans said: “We’ve been practising a lot all week and the banter’s been fun.
“I have really enjoyed being around the other guys and the turnaround after the US Open has been very quick so I haven’t really had time to think about what happened there.
“Even though clay isn’t my best surface, I’m excited to get out there again and Davis Cup usually brings the best out in me.”
Murray, who is playing in his first Davis Cup tie for two years, has put himself forward to play in the doubles rubber with Colin Fleming, which means he is scheduled to play on all three days.
Murray and Fleming, who he has known since their junior days, reached the final of the Montreal Masters last month, and he said in New York: “I think that would be the best chance to win the match.”
But should Murray play a long match against Coric then former Wimbledon doubles champion Marray will step in to play with his regular partner against Dodig and Mate Pavic.
Britain are aiming to return to the world group for the first time since beating Croatia in a play-off at Wimbledon six years ago.
It has been an impressive rise three years after they were one match away from being relegated to the lowest tier of the competition.
Smith has lost only one of his seven ties in charge, with the highlight so far being a shock victory over Russia in April.
Croatia are missing their top player Marin Cilic and No 3 Ivo Karlovic but, having been on the other side of upsets, Smith is wary of being too confident.
The captain said: “On paper it might appear we are the favourites but as we all know there are no easy matches. Away ties are always tricky.
“I decided to make a substitution to the original nominated team, putting in Jonny Marray, giving us more (doubles) options as I believe that rubber will be crucial. It’s a tough assignment but we are ready.”