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Who are the Belgian team standing in the way of Britain's Davis Cup dream?

Who are the Belgian team standing in the way of Britain's Davis Cup dream?
By Eurosport

24/11/2015 at 09:51Updated 24/11/2015 at 10:06

Eurosport commentator Chris Bowers takes a look at Britain's opponents in this week's Davis Cup final.

Belgium have named the four players everyone expected for their Davis Cup final on home clay: Kimmer Coppejans, Ruben Bemelmans, David Goffin and Steve Darcis.

There was never any doubt: beyond Kimmer Coppejans at 131 in the rankings, there are no Belgians in the remainder of the top 200, and virtually no Davis Cup experience outside the four nominated players.

So who are the four standing in the way of the British quartet?

Belgium's Steve Darcis (L) celebrates with Davis Goffin (R) after winning the Davis cup semi-final match against Argentina's Federico Delbonis at the Forest National Arena on September 20, 2015

Belgium's Steve Darcis (L) celebrates with Davis Goffin (R) after winning the Davis cup semi-final match against Argentina's Federico Delbonis at the Forest National Arena on September 20, 2015AFP

David Goffin

Age: 24

Height: 1.80m (5ft 11in)

Current rank: 16

Highest rank: 14 (July 2015)

Greatest achievements: 2 titles (both 2014) and leading Belgium to this final

Goffin plays the Andy Murray role in the Belgian team. By some way the best Belgian, his country has relied on him for two singles wins for the past two years, but following his 6-1 6-0 defeat to Murray at the Paris Masters two weeks ago, his role in this final might be a shade different.

If he doesn’t win his singles on the opening day the Belgian ship is probably sunk, but his biggest role may come in the doubles. Despite he fact that he is not a natural doubles player, Belgium’s captain Johan van Herck may risk him in an attempt to get Belgium over the finish line via the doubles and the two singles Murray doesn’t play. A neat player who reached the French Open fourth round at 21, he will be no pushover, but has reached just one final this year and is not in Murray’s league if the Scot is fully fit.

The key men in the Davis Cup Final: Andy Murray and David Goffin

Steve Darcis

Age: 31

Height: 1.78m (5ft 10in)

Current rank: 85

Highest rank: 44 (May 2008)

Greatest achievements: 2 titles; beating Nadal at Wimbledon (2013)

The affable Darcis has spent most of his career ranked between 50 and 100 but hit gold in the first round of Wimbledon in 2013 when he played the match of his life to beat Rafael Nadal. That result, alongside his high-pressure four-set win over Federico Delbonis in the fifth rubber of Belgium’s semi-final against Argentina in September, shows Darcis can rise to the big occasion.

Carlos Berlocq and Leonardo Mayer congratulate Ruben Bemelmans and Steve Darcis - Belgium v Argentina

Carlos Berlocq and Leonardo Mayer congratulate Ruben Bemelmans and Steve Darcis - Belgium v ArgentinaAFP

Ruben Bemelmans

Age: 27

Height: 1.83m (6ft 0in)

Current rank: 105

Highest rank: 84 (September 2015)

Greatest achievements: 3 Challenger titles, 1 tour-level doubles title

A left-hander who has been in good form on the Challenger circuit in recent weeks but has relatively little experience at tour level. His slightly unorthodox playing style, characterised by a looping forehand, could unsettle opponents outside the top 50, especially as he’s the type of player who is happy to rally for four or five hours.

It’s possible he may be called upon to play a live fifth rubber if the score is 2-2 on Sunday afternoon. He’s also a useful doubles player who’s likely to feature on Saturday alongside either Darcis or Goffin.

Kimmer Coppejans

Age: 21

Height: 1.88m (6ft 2in)

Current rank: 131

Highest rank: 97 (June 2015)

Greatest achievements: 3 Challenger titles (2 in 2015)

A proven claycourter having won the French Open boys singles title in 2012, and he’s a former world junior No 1 - but it's only this year that he has broken into the world's top 100. A native of the Channel port city of Ostend, he has a decent serve, and can hit through the court with his forehand, especially the in-to-out shot.

His Flemish name may sound exotic to British ears, but he’s likely to be a mainstay of Belgian tennis in the future. Whether he is thrown in for the final remains to be seen – if he is, it will almost certainly be in the singles, since he has little doubles experience to speak of.

And finally, the man who retired too early...

Olivier Rochus – the diminutive player, who won the Wimbledon junior doubles title with Roger Federer in 1997 and the French Open men’s doubles with Xavier Malisse in 2004, toiled for 15 years for Belgium, but retired at the end of 2014. He’s only 34 (same age as Federer) and had he still been playing he would almost certainly warrant a place, if only as an experienced doubles player. He will be kicking himself at the timing of his retirement.

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