Murray back for Great Britain against Japan for defence of Davis Cup
Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | March 3, 2016
After his wife gave birth to their first child, Andy Murray returns to the courts in Great Britain’s (1/4 tie favourites with Coral) defence of the Davis Cup against a Kei Nishikori-led Japan (11/4) on Friday in Birmingham in the World Group.
Scotsman Murray has been pitted against 23-year-old American-born Taro Daniel, ranked number 87 in the world, and is heavily odds-on at 1/100 to see him off.
The duo have never met, but the Briton is a more enticing 1/5 shout to win 3-0 and 13/2 to whitewash him in the opening set.
In young Yorkshireman Kyle Edmund’s absence through injury, Dan Evans gets the chance to play in his home city on the indoor hard courts against top 10 star Nishikori, who he surprisingly beat in their only previous meeting.
Evans won 3-0 in the opening round of the 2013 US Open against Nishikori, who went on to reach the final of the event the following year, and is a very tempting 7/1 to shock him again.
Nishikori, though, is the 1/14 favourite for a reason, and is 11/4 to triumph in four sets this time around.
The doubles fixtures take place on Saturday, where Dominic Inglot is scheduled to partner Murray’s brother Jamie against Yoshihito Nishioka and Yasutaka Uchiyama.
Britain have been handed the title of top seeds this year, and they are enticing 12/1 chances to defend their crown.
Djokovic features in strong Serb side
Novak Djokovic returns to the fold for Serbia (1/20 tie favourites), after opting out of the 4-1 quarter-final loss with with Argentina last year, as his nation take on Kazakhstan (8/1).
Aleksandr Nedovyesov (20/1) faces the daunting task of challenging the world number one (1/100) first, but Mikhail Kukushkin (5/2) has a better chance against Viktor Troicki (3/10).
Serbia are the title favourites at 5/2 to claim their first Davis Cup crown since 2010.
Crunch clashes elsewhere in World Group
France (3/1) and Australia (8/1) are also contenders to get their hand on the massive men’s team trophy, but face difficult North American opposition Canada and USA respectively, although both on home soil.
The French, playing in oversees Caribbean territory Guadeloupe, will be happy to hear that their counterparts will be without main man Milos Raonic, though.
USA have been touted as the odds-on 1/2 favourites to beat the Aussies (6/4), coached by recently retired Lleyton Hewitt, meanwhile, so snap up their outright tournament odds of 12/1 while you can.
Elsewhere, Italy (1/20 tie chances) take on neighbours Switzerland (8/1), who will be without both of Grand Slam-winning pair Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka, Germany (6/4) face Czech Republic (1/2), 2015 finalists Belgium (5/2) are against Croatia (2/7) and Argentina (1/4) face the long trip to Poland (11/4).