Murray spearheads Britain in Davis Cup final
Andy Murray will lead Britain’s bid for a first Davis Cup win since 1936 in Belgium later this month with James Ward and Kyle Edmund in contention for the second singles spot.
The 28-year-old Scot has won all eight of his rubbers this year – six singles and two doubles – en route to Britain’s first final since 1978, defeating the United States, France and Australia.
But his preparations for the November 27-29 final on a specially laid slow claycourt in Ghent have been hampered by his obligations to play in this week’s ATP World Tour finals on a hardcourt in London.
Team captain Leon Smith will look for world number two Murray to bag two points from his singles matches and also likely link up with brother Jamie to ensure what could be the clinching point in the doubles as they did against Australia in the semi-finals.
Smith does not have to finalise his four-man line-up until a week on Thursday, and is likely to see how Edmund and Ward perform in practice on clay at the Flanders Expo before making a final decision.
Ward has been a key figure in the run to the final, claiming a vital five-set win against John Isner during the first round tie against the United States.
But 20-year-old Edmund has pushed himself into contention by winning a Challenger title on clay in Buenos Aires on Sunday and is in line to make his Davis Cup debut.
Dan Evans, who also won a title on Sunday, has been left out but was a late inclusion for the semi-final against Australia so could potentially still figure.
But there will be no place for Aljaz Bedene, the Slovenian-born British number two who was prevented from playing for his adopted country as he had previously played three matches for his native country, all dead rubbers.
Bedene appealed the case to the International Tennis Federation, who run the Davis Cup, but they have deferred any decision until next March.
Smith, who took over the captaincy in 2010 for a play-off against Turkey to avoid dropping into the bottom tier of the competition, said: “It is an historic moment in British tennis and I’m delighted to name these five players for the tie against Belgium.
“Andy has led from the front throughout this campaign, showing time and again what it means to him to pull on the GB jersey.
“He shows determination, commitment and passion that inspires the other British players on the bench and our fantastic fans in the stands.
“The team has had some incredible results this year, and we know that off the back of defeating the three other Grand Slam nations we carry great momentum going into the final.
“However, we will not underestimate the challenge in front of us. The Belgian team is full of top-100 talent and they will push us all the way.”
Belgium, who have never won the Davis Cup, and who will be appearing in the final for just the second time, as expected named world number 16 David Goffin as their top player.
The second singles spot is expected to go to Steve Darcis, who supplied the winning point in the semi-finals against Argentina.
The British and Belgian teams, announced on Tuesday, to contest the Davis Cup final in Ghent from November 27-29:
Britain: Andy Murray, James Ward, Kyle Edmund, Jamie Murray, Dominic Inglot. Captain Leon Smith
Belgium: David Goffin, Steve Darcis, Ruben Bemelmans, Kimmer Coppejans. Captain: Johan van Herck