THE DAVIS CUP 2015 – THE STORY SO FAR
With this year’s Davis Cup Final between Great Britain and Belgium looming, I take a look at Britain’s run in the competition so far, and their chances of winning in Ghent.
The Murrays. If you look at it honestly, they are the main reason that Great Britain are still in this year’s Davis Cup, the tennis competition which they (like so much in tennis) have not won since 1936. So do the national team stand a chance this time around? Well, Britain do have more of a range of players now, in the likes of James Ward and Dan Evans. Ward has been instrumental at certain points in this year’s tournament, for example in his five-hour, five-set defeat of the USA’s John Isner in the first round, while Evans is promising but not quite of Ward’s standard. But these players have also tended to crumble under pressure in the more recent stages of the competition.
So Britain are beginning to acquire strength in depth (or perhaps more accurately potential in depth). But they still rely for the most part on the Murray brothers, who are able to summon levels of determination and strength that have made all their rivals thus far wilt. In both the quarter-final against France and the semi-final against Australia, their power was the difference. The question is whether, when away from home soil in Belgium (and not in Glasgow as hoped), they can show it one more time.
At least there is the comforting fact that on 5th November, in only his third career meeting with Belgian player (and Belgium Davis Cup team member) David Goffin, Andy Murray thrashed him 6-1 6-0 to reach the quarter-finals of the Paris Masters. Now we just have to hope that neither Andy nor Jamie Murray sustain injuries during the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 arena, which they are both playing in this week. And with Great Britain’s provisional squad for the final having been announced on Tuesday as including the Murrays, James Ward, young up-and-comer Kyle Edmund and solid doubles player Dominic Inglot, there are reasons to be hopeful.
So while we can be relatively sure that, barring injury, the Murrays will bring their A-game, it is also up to the other individual players to make their mark, or at the very least tire the Belgian team out. But the consistency throughout the tournament has come from the Murray brothers – showing incredible strength, galvanising the crowd and summoning immense levels of energy and skill when needed, they are the British team’s undisputed stars.
The only rub is that the final is being played on clay, which is not Andy Murray’s favourite surface (however he has reached the semi-finals of the French Open before). And Steve Darcis, the only other known quantity in the Belgian team, did beat Rafael Nadal in the first round of Wimbledon in 2013. So there is potentially trouble there, but with them possessing both the Murrays’ undoubted tenacity and a potent team spirit nurtured by captain Leon Smith, it would be foolish to count Great Britain out. It would cap a promising year for British tennis for them to win the Davis Cup, and give them hope for next year.
Whatever the outcome, the event may be tense given recent events in France, but one would hope that in spite of that, the teams will go out there with pride and passion, and make the most of a great opportunity and a great show of world tennis.
The 2015 Davis Cup Final is being played in Ghent, Belgium, from 27th to 29th November.