Belgian coach Julien Hoferlin in hospital after operation to remove brain tumour ahead of Davis Cup final The plight of a seriously ill coach who has worked for the Belgian and British Davis Cup teams will provide a poignant backdrop when the final begins on Friday.
Julien Hoferlin was part of the British support team for several ties earlier in the decade, during their rise through the competition's lower tiers in a five year spell working for the Lawn Tennis Association. He has had an integral role with his home country's squad this year in their unlikely journey to the final. But instead of being a key member of their bench this weekend, he is in hospital after a major operation two weeks ago to remove a recently diagnosed brain tumour. Steve Darcis (left) receives advice from captain Hoferlin, who has been diagnosed with a brain tumour A genial and very popular figure on the tennis tour, he has worked extensively with both sets of players and was the personal coach to Britain's Dan Evans, among others, when working at the LTA. He was also coach of British women's No 1 Jo Konta. However, nobody has been more shaken than Belgian No 2 Steve Darcis, who was working with the 48 year old when the tumour was discovered last month. 'It's been very tough, I've known him since I was five and he has been much more than just a coach to me,' Darcis told Sportsmail. 'We are all concerned and just hoping for the best for him.' When it comes to the business of trying to lift the trophy on Sunday, Darcis is at the centre of deliberations about the exact make up of the Belgium team. Meanwhile British captain Leon Smith has reversed his earlier inclination to make an early selection. Both teams will field established No 1 players in Andy Murray and David Goffin and it had been widely believed that Darcis would be Murray's opponent in the first singles on Friday. However, it is now thought his captain Johan Van Herck is moving towards choosing either his third or fourth string Ruben Bemelmans or Kimmer Coppejans to play that day coach outlet united states and keeping Darcis back for duty in the doubles and a possible deciding fifth rubber on Sunday. Aside from off court concerns with his gravely ill coach, Darcis has had repeat shoulder problems this year and has not played since the Stockholm Open in late October where he picked up an ankle injury. With neither side having to name their final four until Thursday lunchtime's draw, GB captain Smith is refusing to declare his hand, even though he has done a lot of talking up of 20 year old Kyle Edmund who has been practising hard with Murray at Flanders Expo. At Tuesday's press conferences James Ward was not acting like a man who had been told he was not playing, while Smith said his thinking had been altered by the squad's delayed departure from London due to security in Belgium. 'We only had yesterday on court with a good day of practice,' he said. 'The most important thing is that we're here now, we're practising. Our main focus is making sure the players are ready.' The security situation continues to be a major issue, with the first of what is estimated to be 5,000 fans from the UK expected to start arriving today. Schools reopened on Tuesday in nearby Brussels, but the maximum threat alert was extended there to a week. It remains a pink coach purse outlet notch below that in Ghent and Murray expressed the hope that most British fans would overcome any safety fears and make the trip. 'Here in Ghent, everything seems fine,' said the 28 year old Scot, wrapped up like an arctic explorer amid the cold caused by the hall's doors being open for deliveries. 'I think it's a really nice city. I hope as many fans can travel over as possible. 'I think it's not for me to give people advice on security. That isn't my thing. But obviously it's a different situation in Brussels from here. 'I know a lot of fans were staying there and planning on travelling through there. Obviously listen to the right people, if you're doing that.' 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