Great Britain Davis Cup team make history and face Belgium in final
It is fair to say that those who questioned Andy Murray’s loyalty towards Great Britain in the Davis Cup now look a bit stupid, as the Scot heroically led his team from the front to their first final since 1978.
Murray has helped the Brits past perhaps more favoured nations the USA, France and then Australia, by winning all six of his singles and both doubles matches, and they are now the odds-on favourites with Coral at 2/7 to beat fellow unseeded side Belgium.
It will be the second time that they have met at this stage, when GB ran out 5-0 victors way back in 1904 in the fourth edition of the competition. Belgium haven’t reached a final since, and are 5/2 to go all the way this time, but Britain are aiming for their 10th title and first since 1936 when Fred Perry helped see off Australia.
However, while the 1904 final saw GB take home advantage at the famous Wimbledon courts, this time they will have to play away for the first time this year at the Flanders Expo Arena in Ghent, which will be on clay.
One advantage Britain can take from this clash, is that the Belgians came through all three of their World Group ties against depleted teams.
They only just managed to come through a Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka-less Switzerland 3-2 in the first round, while in the quarters they whitewashed Canada, who were missing first choice stars Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil. Both were at home.
Finally, in the semis, they edged Argentina 3-2, but the South Americans again were missing their key player Juan Martin del Potro, who has been out with a long-term injury.
Captain Leon Smith and Murray will certainly fancy their chances against Belgium, despite not being able to have the help of a partisan home Scottish crowd again.
It seems Scotland will be the key once more in Ghent, as Murray and his brother Jamie could team up again in the doubles following their five-set thriller against the Aussies and quarters win over French pair Nicolas Mahut and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Murray junior has even suggested he could miss the end-of-season World Tour Finals on the hard courts of London’s O2 Arena, a tournament in which the world number three has never really thrived at.
“The O2 would obviously be a question mark for me if we were playing on the clay,” Murray said. “I would go and train and prepare on the clay to get ready for the final.
“You saw last year with Roger Federer that the matches at the O2 are extremely tough and physically demanding.
“If you reach the final and play on the Sunday you also need to take time off – you can’t just play five matches against the best players in the world and then not take any days off.”
“For me to play – if I was to reach the final – five in a row and then take a couple of days off, it would mean only playing for two days on the clay before the Davis Cup final starts and that wouldn’t be enough for me,” he added.
“I need more time on the clay to let my back get used to it.”
Murray should certainly be able to beat top two Belgians David Goffin and Steve Darcis, who he has never lost against in one meeting apiece. But, if Britain fail to win the doubles, it could be up to one of James Ward, Dan Evans or Kyle Edmund to claim just one required point.