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Tennis - Davis Cup 1st Round. GB v Japan, Birmingham

Written by:
Payton
Published on:
Mar/03/2016
Tennis - Davis Cup 1st Round. GB v Japan, Birmingham

Great Britain begin their defence of the Davis Cup in Birmingham on Friday, with a newly refreshed Andy Murray leading the charge after the birth of his baby daughter, Sophia. The team is currently five strong, with Murray’s brother Jamie, Dan Evans, Kyle Edmund and Dom Inglot; this will have to be cut to four closer to the tie, with final selection announced on Thursday. GB are heading into this tie off the back of some impressive form individually, with Jamie Murray having won the Aussie Open doubles title, and brother Andy reaching the singles final. The Murrays are now world number 2 at doubles and singles respectively.

The Japan side are ranked 14 in the world at the moment, with GB first. On paper, this will be an easy ride for the champions. However, at this level there are no easy rides, and with Japanese players like Kei Nishikori, currently ranked 6 in the world, this tie could be interesting. Japan had a good win in Colombia in September 2015 to stay in the World Group. Additionally, GB were languishing in the Europe/Africa group as recently as 2013, until going on to win the cup last year. Proof indeed that your form can turn around relatively quickly.

As it is, Japan will go into the tie as underdogs, with Nishikori and his team hoping for an upset. This is the first time since 1931 that the two teams have met, with the prospect of a singles rubber between the world number 6 and number 2 a distinct possibility. Japan will be hoping that their team of Nishikori, Taro Daniel, Yoshihito Nishioka and Yasutaka Uchiyama will be enough to defeat the title holders. However, since Japan’s best performance was runner up in 1921, they may find Great Britain to have just too much quality. This is not to say that, historically, GB’s record has been exemplary; their victory in the cup last year being their first for 79 years!

 

Great Britain will be hoping for victory this weekend for a number of reasons, not least of which would be the consequences of a loss. Their next tie would then be against Spain in a relegation match. A trip to a clay court in Spain in September against one of the strongest teams in the world on the red stuff would be a very tricky tie indeed. On a personal note for Andy Murray, he has ambitions of retaining both the Davis Cup and Olympic title this year. It would be a surprise if GB lost, but the disappointment would rankle Murray.

 

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