Murray leads star-short Davis Cup line-up

Andy Murray will stand alone on the big stage competing as the sole member of the tennis elite as Davis Cup quarter-final play starts on Friday.

The third-ranked Scot will be expected to fly the flag for Britain in the tie on grass against France at Queen’s club in London, as the cross-Channel neighbours meet for the 21st time.

Britain is bidding to defeat France for the first time in 37 years – the last time was in 1978 on clay at Roland Garros – and will face a side expected to include Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gilles Simon and Wimbledon semi-finalist Richard Gasquet.

The other quarter-final ties comprise 28-times champion Australia against Kazakhstan on grass in Darwin, Belgium versus a Canada, minus both injured Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil, in the port city of Ostend, and Argentina hosting a Serbian side that is missing world No.1 Novak Djokovic.

Australia is fielding a fragmented team after the disciplinary suspension of national number one Bernard Tomic from Davis play in a financial dispute between his family and national tennis supremos.

Lleyton Hewitt will again carry much of the load on a team comprising himself, Sam Groth, Nick Kyrgios and Thanassi Kokkinakis.

As team elder, Hewitt feels the need to guide the younger players.

“I’m a bit of a sounding board for any small issues they have at times,” Hewitt said.

“The biggest thing for me is that they can feel comfortable coming to me and asking for my opinions and things, you know that’s part of being the oldest one in the team.” Australia has not been this far in the worldwide team competition for nine years after rejoining the World Group for the first time since 2006.

With the Canadians badly hit by injuries, Belgium with David Goffin and Steve Darcis should have free reign in the first meeting between the two nations since 1913, with the Belgians losing that last tie more than a century ago.

Djokovic opted out of the trip to South America, letting teammates Viktor Troicki and Janko Tipsarevic do most of the heavy lifting on clay.

Argentina won the last meeting between the nations in 2011 and would reach a 10th World Group semi-final since 2002 with another victory.

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