Davis Cup: Andy Murray & Dan Evans carry GB hopes v Australia

By Piers NewberyBBC Sport in Glasgow
Andy Murray
The Davis Cup semi-final will broadcast on BBC TV, Radio, online and the sports app
Davis Cup semi-final: Great Britain v Australia
Venue: Emirates Arena, Glasgow. Date: 18-20 September.
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One or Two, BBC Sport website and app from 13:00 BST. Live commentary on Radio 5 live sports extra on Friday.

Andy Murray and Dan Evans will carry British hopes on day one of the Davis Cup semi-final against Australia in Glasgow.

Victory in the best-of-five tie would take Great Britain through to a first final since 1978.

Murray will play Thanasi Kokkinakis in the first singles match at 13:00 BST, before Evans plays Australian number one Bernard Tomic.

Belgium host Argentina in the other World Group semi-final in Brussels.

What's at stake?

It is 34 years since Britain last made the Davis Cup semi-finals, 37 years since they reached the final, and 79 years since they lifted the trophy.

How GB reached Davis Cup semi-finals

Wins over the US and France, plus the absence of powerhouses such as Serbia, Switzerland and Spain from the semis, have raised the real prospect of a 10th title.

"It's a big occasion for sure," said Murray. "Everyone views this as a big opportunity."

Australia have won the Davis Cup 28 times, with Lleyton Hewitt leading the way in their most recent triumph 12 years ago.

Davis Cup order of play
Andy Murray v Thanasi Kokkinakis (13:00 BST)
Dan Evans v Bernard Tomic
Dom Inglot & Jamie Murray v Lleyton Hewitt & Samuel Groth
Andy Murray v Bernard Tomic
Dan Evans v v Thanasi Kokkinakis
*days 2 and 3 draws subject to change

Evans back in the spotlight

Great Britain Davis Cup team
Dan Evans' has been given a vote of confidence by the captain Leon Smith and will face Bernard Tomic in his first semi-final match

Leon Smith's decision to select Evans over James Ward or Kyle Edmund was a surprise, and the biggest gamble of his five-year captaincy.

Evans, 25, has won 29 matches since Wimbledon, albeit on the third-tier Futures circuit, and he beat Tomic in their only meeting at the 2013 US Open.

"My game matches up pretty well to him and that's what I've got to try and do on Friday, play that way again," said Evans.

"I remember when I've lost to someone and that's always in your head."

Tomic, 22, is at a career-high ranking of 23 in the world and said he has put that New York defeat behind him.

"Honestly, I was up 6-1 and 3-0 I think, and I couldn't make a ball after that," he said. "That's all I remember."

And Murray has backed Evans to rise to the occasion.

"Dan's talent has never been in question and I also think he has the sort of personality that gets up for big matches and big occasions," said the Scot. "Obviously some players can freeze in those situations but I don't think that is in his personality, I think he will handle it fine."

Great Britain v Australia player rankings - singles
World rankingGreat BritainAustraliaWorld ranking
3Andy MurrayBernard Tomic23
300Dan EvansThanasi Kokkinakis72

Kokkinakis faces mentor Murray

Thanasi Kokkinakis and Andy Murray
Kokkinakis, who is 72nd in the world rankings, is friends with Britain's Andy Murray

It will be a first meeting between the world number three and number 72, although they practise together regularly and played doubles in Miami.

They have also become friends off court since 19-year-old Kokkinakis has emerged on tour, with plenty of good-natured messages relayed on social media.

"I'm very excited," said the Australian. "Playing Andy first up is crazy. It will be an unreal experience for me."

Murray, who missed the official team dinner on Wednesday with an upset stomach, said: "I spend a lot of time watching and speaking to him, so I know his game well.

"He's a very explosive player but at the same time it's a tough match-up for him as well, and the atmosphere will be challenging for them."

Doubles dilemma for Britain

The length of the first singles match could decide whether Murray is fresh enough to play in the doubles on Saturday.

He played all three rubbers during the quarter-final win over France, winning the decisive third point against Gilles Simon despite near exhaustion.

"In Jamie Murray and Dom Inglot I have two-world-class doubles players who are extremely confident," said Smith.

"You can't be sure that Andy can play all three days, it's a big ask for him, so I want to have those options for doubles."

Great Britain v Australia player rankings - doubles
World rankingGreat BritainAustraliaWorld ranking
8Jamie MurraySam Groth54
26Dom InglotLleyton Hewitt139

Back on familiar ground

Andy Murray fans, Davis Cup quarter-final
Great Britain had plenty of support during the quarter-final match against France at Queens Club in July

After switching to the grass of Queen's Club against France in July, Britain return to the slow indoor hard courts of their first-round win over the US in March.

The Emirates was chosen to host the semi-final after larger options such as the Glasgow Hydro and Manchester Arena were unavailable.

There are 800 more seats in use at the Emirates this time as capacity has been extended to 8,000, meeting the minimum requirement for a semi-final.

"When we played here in March it was great and I expect the same again this weekend," said Andy Murray. "I would imagine it will be even better."

Who are the Aussies?
Tomic returns to the fold after being dropped in June for "unacceptable" comments accusing the governing body of failing to support him. "That time was a bit of a disappointment but I'm very happy to be back in the team," he said.
Kokkinakis is well established in the top 100 and has made friends with Andy Murray along the way. "I'm not sure whether knowing him well helps or hinders," said Kokkinakis.
Hewitt is a former world number one but in his final months before planning to retire at next year's Australian Open. "This means a lot in my last year," he said. "It's a great opportunity."
Sam Groth's game is built around what has officially been clocked as the fastest serve in the world at 163.4mph. "We have to calm Grothy down," Masur said when asked if his players were fired up.
Wally Masur, 52, is a former world number 15 and Grand Slam semi-finalist. He took on the captaincy in January and is expected to hand it on to Hewitt next year.