Brits struggle in Murray's absence

John Lloyd’s Davis Cup rookies failed to fill the void left by Andy Murray as Great Britain slumped to within one rubber of defeat against Ukraine.

John Lloyd’s Davis Cup rookies failed to fill the void left by Andy Murray as Great Britain slumped to within one rubber of defeat against Ukraine.

Josh Goodall was beaten in straight sets by Illya Marchenko in today’s opening singles match, and although fellow debutant Chris Eaton did well to take a set off Sergiy Stakhovsky, Britain will have to win all three remaining rubbers to avoid a relegation play-off from Euro/Africa Zone Group One.

Murray’s withdrawal with a virus from the tie at Glasgow’s Braehead Arena saw the home side plummet from the position of odds-on favourites to marginal outsiders.

With Stakhovsky ranked 258 places above Eaton, it appeared vital that Goodall - who had assumed the mantle of British number one in the absence of Murray – got his team off to a flying start.

But not since Andrew Richardson beat Zimbabwe’s Byron Black 12 years ago has a Briton other than Murray, Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski won a live Davis Cup singles rubber.

And despite outranking Marchenko by 32 places, Goodall was unable to deliver.

The world 192 was made to pay for nervy starts to the opening two sets as well as throwing away three tie-breaks in a 7-6 (7/2) 7-6 (7/5) 7-6 (7/5) defeat.

The 23-year-old went 3-0 down in the first set and 4-0 down in the second.

He recovered to lead in all three tie-breaks but Marchenko proved the stronger competitor.

Eaton, who became the lowest ranked male to reach the second round of Wimbledon last year, again belied his lowly status as the world number 383 to give Stakhovsky a real game.

The 21-year-old served and volley superbly at times but his opponent ruthlessly took advantage of what few break points there were to run out a 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-4 winner.

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