LONDON: Britain’s rise from embarrassing Davis Cup lightweights to title contenders has been nothing short of spectacular and they will begin slight favourites to reach a first final in 37 years against Australia on Friday.
A glance at the respective depth of the two sides contesting the semi-final would appear to question that wisdom, but with talisman Andy Murray in their ranks and an expected vociferous crowd in Glasgow, the momentum is with the hosts.
While Britain claimed the last of their nine titles in 1936, Belgium have never won the team competition and will also approach their home semi-final against Argentina in Brussels with opportunity knocking loudly on the door.
Australia’s cause has not been helped by volatile talent Nick Kyrgios being left out after a spate of disciplinary problems, yet they still boast a line-up consisting of world number 23 Bernard Tomic, Thanasi Kokkinakis, big-serving Sam Groth and former world number one Lleyton Hewitt who is bidding for a golden finale to a career that will end in January.
Britain, though, have Murray — two of them in fact with Andy’s less-celebrated brother Jamie fresh from reaching the US Open doubles final with Australian John Peers. “If we’re being honest, if we’ve got Andy in our team then we’ve got a great chance to beat anyone,” Jamie told the ITF’s website in the build-up to the tie.
Hewitt, 34, will be a formidable foe, whichever role he plays and his desire will no doubt rub off on his teammates. “We won’t be leaving anything in the locker room, that’s for certain,” he said as 28-times champions Australia seek a first final since 2003.
Belgium will rely heavily on mercurial world number 15 David Goffin against an Argentina side featuring Leonardo Mayer as their top singles player in the continued absence of former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro. Argentina are trying to shake-off the “nearly man” tag having lost four finals.