As a team, Great Britain’s Davis Cup record has been more impressive than Spain’s over the past few years, with Andy Murray’s brilliance helping them to lift the title in 2015 and then reach the semi-finals in 2016. Without Murray, they lost in the quarter-finals last year. Spain also bowed out in the quarter-finals last year, in what was their first appearance in the World Group since 2014.
Edmund had been set to carry British hopes in Marbella in the absence of the injured Murray and had never been in better form, having beaten US Open runner-up Kevin Anderson and third seed Grigor Dimitrov on his way to the last four of the Australian Open. However, he has failed to recover in time from a hip injury and it will instead be Liam Broady and Cameron Norrie who play singles. Spain will be missing Rafael Nadal, who had already said that he would sit out the tie before he suffered an injury in Melbourne, but they still have three players ranked higher than Edmund in their team.
The first round of the World Group is one of the most significant dates on the Davis Cup calendar. While the winners will keep alive their hopes of going all the way to the final, the losers must contemplate the prospect of a play-off later in the year to preserve their status in the top tier. As one of the seeded teams, Great Britain could not have been handed a tougher challenge and Spain will start as overwhelming favourites on the clay courts of Marbella.
Pablo Carreno Busta broke into the world’s top ten last year and made it to the fourth round of the Australian Open, while Roberto Bautista Agut recently won the Auckland Open and Albert Ramos Vinolas is extremely accomplished on the red dirt. Captain Sergi Bruguera even has the experience of David Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez to call on should he need to do so.
It would be one of Great Britain’s greatest ever Davis Cup wins if they manage to pull it off, but realistically there is little chance of Cameron Norrie or Liam Broady contributing much in the singles. If Edmund had been fit it would not have been an impossible mission, even though he would have needed to beat two higher-ranked players on their home soil. The Yorkshireman is very comfortable on the clay and has the power to topple anyone in the Spanish squad.
The doubles pairing of Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot is also classy enough to do a job on the middle Saturday. However, in the absence of Edmund, the doubles is by far Britain's best chance of getting a point on the board and the likely scenario is that Spain will run out 4-1 or 5-0 winners.
Sports.net’s Top Tip
Spain to beat Great Britain win 4-1
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.