Andy Murray leads Britain's Davis Cup bid against Belgium
ABS-CBN Sports on Nov 27, 2015 10:30 AM
Members of the British Davis Cup tennis team for the final from the left, Kyle Edmund, Andy Murray, non playing team captain Leon Smith, James Ward and Jamie Murray pose for the media following the draw for the games between Belgium and Britain, in Ghent, Belgium, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015. The final starts Friday and runs till Sunday. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
AP Sports Writer
GHENT, Belgium (AP) — Andy Murray ended a 77-year wait for a British man to win the Wimbledon title and he is on the verge of snapping an even longer drought in the Davis Cup final.
The best-of-five series between Britain and Belgium starts Friday with David Goffin playing Kyle Edmund, who will be making his Davis Cup debut in the final. Murray then plays Ruben Bemelmans, who was surprisingly picked over higher-ranked Steve Darcis.
Captains can change their picks and Belgium's Johan van Herck has indicated that he could take advantage of that option.
"The weekend will be long," van Herck said. "I think we took the best decision and we'll see who will play Saturday and Sunday."
Murray said he was not bothered by the prospect of perhaps playing three matches in three days.
"I am happy to take as much pressure on my shoulder as needed," Murray said after the draw, where he was also listed to play in Saturday's doubles. "I should be fine here.
"There's nerves there, obviously. That's really a positive thing. When I'm not nervous is normally when I worry a little bit. It's obviously a big opportunity for all of us. I believe that we prepared as best we can," Murray said.
The 20-year-old Edmund got the nod after convincing captain Leon Smith in practice.
Smith also retained James Ward for reverse singles if the series is decided on Sunday. According to the draw, the reverse singles feature Goffin vs. Murray and Bemelmans vs. Edmund, but that could change.
Britain is the only nation to have competed in all Davis Cup editions since 1900 and is seeking its 10th title. The United States has the most with 32, while Australia has 28.
But the last time Britain won the Davis Cup was in 1936, when Fred Perry won the decisive match against Jack Crawford for a 3-2 win over Australia.
Incidentally, Perry won the Wimbledon singles title that year and no British man won the championship again until Murray in 2013.
This is Britain's 18th appearance in the Davis Cup final. Only the United States (61) and Australia (47) have played more finals. Britain's last final was in 1978, when it lost 4-1 to the United States.
Belgium is bidding for its first title in its first final in 111 years — when it lost 5-0 to Britain at Wimbledon.
If Belgium wins, it will be the 15th nation to lift the coveted trophy.
Britain's hopes clearly depend on Murray adjusting to clay after playing on a hard indoor surface in London two weeks ago at the ATP finals.
Murray can become only the third player after John McEnroe in 1982 and Mats Wilander in 1983 to win all eight singles matches in a Davis Cup year since the introduction of the World Group in 1981.
Belgium, which played and won all three previous times this year at home, picked clay as the surface in the Flanders Expo hall.
The series comes amid heightened security following the Paris attacks and the Brussels lockdown. Thursday's draw was moved from a music hall to the match venue and a party has been canceled. The British team delayed its arrival by a day, until Monday.
Subway transport and schools were shut in Brussels and sporting events canceled while soldiers patrolled the streets because of fears of a Paris-style attack.
The hunt for suspects of the Paris attacks goes on in the Brussels area. Schools and the subway system reopened on Wednesday but the alert level will remain the same for the rest of the week.
Organizers have warned spectators coming to the 13,000-seat arena to take extra time in arriving because of time-consuming security checks. Bags will not be allowed into the arena.
The head of the International Tennis Federation, David Haggerty, has said he expects a full arena.
"We want to make sure the players are safe, fans are safe, staff, everybody that's here," Haggerty said this week. "I'm sure there have been cancellations but at the same time there are also people that are looking for tickets so it might be a chance for them to come."