Davis Cup 2015: Murray brothers can lead British boost

By Russell FullerBBC tennis correspondent
Andy and Jamie Murray
A capacity crowd of 7,700 is expected in Glasgow
Davis Cup: Great Britain v United States
Venue: Emirates Arena, Glasgow Dates: 6-8 March
Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, Red Button, the BBC Sport website, mobile, the BBC Sport app and Connected TV.

When Belgium, Slovakia, Hungary and Luxembourg played Davis Cup ties in Glasgow in recent years, there was little fuss and little fanfare.

The stakes were relatively low, and the venue chosen accordingly.

But now, with Great Britain back in the World Group and facing the United States in its first top-flight home tie since 2002, one of Glasgow's Commonwealth Games venues has been hired.

There are two Murrays in the team for the first time in four years, and GB has at least an even chance of repeating last year's memorable victory over the US in San Diego.

Why does this tie matter?

It is 13 long years since Britain last had a home World Group tie to promote.

The Swedish team of Thomas Enqvist and Thomas Johansson snuffed out GB's aspirations that year as they won both final day singles against Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski.

It is overly simplistic to say that high-profile home Davis Cup ties will boost the sport's flagging participation levels, but British success and greater exposure to what can be a thrilling format has to be in the long-term interests of the sport.

GB defeat USA in 2014 Davis Cup

There is also the prospect of a home quarter-final in July against France or Germany, should Britain come out on top at the Emirates Arena over the next three days.

The tie would be played in the week after Wimbledon, although I understand the All England Club has already been ruled out as hosts as there would be insufficient time to prepare the courts.

This first-round tie has special significance for Scotland. Captain Leon Smith has made no secret of his desire to give the country that produced Andy and Jamie Murray, Elena Baltacha, Colin Fleming and Jamie Baker an opportunity to stage tennis of the very highest level.

"Scotland has punched above its weight in terms of what it could deliver British tennis and with so much going on through the British summer down south, there's nothing for Scottish fans to back up what they see on the TV," Smith told me.

"While Andy Murray is still active, with his best years still ahead of him, it's very important they get to see live, meaningful, competitive tennis because that can inspire the next group to come through."

Where will the tie be won?

There is the potential for unpredictable results throughout this first-round tie.

Andy Murray will be heavily favoured to beat Donald Young on the opening day, but will expect John Isner to be a very awkward customer on Sunday - even if the 6ft 10in American's serve has been somewhat blunted by the slow court that has been made to order.

James Ward and Andy Murray
US captain Jim Courier has called James Ward "a streaky player", saying "he has good patches and bad patches"

In a similar vein, James Ward will not be underestimated by the American team. His stunning victory over Sam Querrey in San Diego laid the platform for a run to the cusp of the world's top 100.

Wins have been hard to come by recently as he plays more matches at tour level, but should it boil down to his deciding singles against Young, then Ward would have much in his favour.

He may be conceding 64 places in the rankings, but will be able to count on the support of nearly 8,000 boisterous fans and his Davis Cup experience. This is his 10th tie, and only Young's second.

Whatever happens in the singles, Britain will be confident of victory if they win Saturday's doubles - even if there is always a big if when the Bryan brothers are on the other side of the net.

Bob and Mike Bryan
American twins Bob and Mike Bryan became the first doubles pair to win 100 titles together with victory at the US Open in September

Bob and Mike have lost only four of their 26 Davis Cup doubles rubbers and also found the time to win 16 Grand Slam titles and finish as the year-end number one a record 10 times.

But if you throw Andy Murray into the mix, add his brother Jamie, and then allow the Glasgow crowd to bring the match to the boil, anything is possible.

Brothers reunited

Andy Murray claimed on Thursday that he is "unlikely" to take part in the doubles, but it would be wise not to read too much into that.

Dom Inglot is in fine form and may still have a part to play if Murray gets drawn into an arduous opening day singles.

Otherwise, it is hard to imagine the double Grand Slam champion sitting on the bench in his native country if the tie is still very much in the balance - especially as Jamie is playing so well and is in a British shirt for the first time since 2011.

Andy and Jamie Murray
It will be a first chance in four years for the Scottish fans to see Andy Murray in action on home soil

"I have played with a lot of different partners, but if I was to choose one person to play with I would pick Jamie," Andy told me.

"I have played with him in doubles since we were 10 years old, so even though we might not have played a lot the last few years, in your head somewhere you have those instincts and we do play quite well together.

"Jamie normally tries to take the lead because he's the older brother," he continued, with a smile. "On the court, he likes to tell me what to do often. I don't like that - especially when he's telling me where to serve. It doesn't stop him from telling me, though."

The Murray brothers against the Bryan twins is a fine proposition - but may not prove decisive. Sunday's singles are far from one-sided, and this one could well go the distance.

BBC coverage

Friday, 6 March: Britain v USA, 13:00-16:30 BBC Two; 14:30-21:00 BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

Saturday, 7 March: Britain v USA, 13:00-16:30 BBC One; 13:00-16:55, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

Sunday, 8 March: Britain v USA, 13:00-15:50 BBC One; 13:00-20:00, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra


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