Australia vs. Great Britain Davis Cup 2015 Preview
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
Tennis Atlantic is live in Glasgow, Scotland for the Davis Cup semi-final between Great Britain and Australia over the weekend of the 18th-20th of September. The Brits are searching for their first Davis Cup success for nearly 80 years when they take on the Aussies at the Emirates Arena this weekend. Confidence is high around the UK that this could be the year Team GB breaks into the final, and with recent victories over France and USA there is little reason to doubt them.
Leon Smith’s team is spearheaded by world number three Andy Murray, whose heroics at Queens in July earned GB a 3-1 victory over France. The Scot played all three days despite physical struggles, and earned key victories over Jo Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon in the single rubbers.
Lleyton Hewitt claimed that all the pressure will be on Andy this weekend as the clear number one British player, but Murray insists that it is not all on him and it will come down to the entire team. “I would say [The Pressure] is all on me.” The 28 year old said. “We got into this position by everyone on the team playing their part, and there is pressure on everybody.
Murray will be joined by his brother Jamie Murray, Dominic Inglot, and Dan Evans, as they try replicate the success that dates back to the days of Fred Perry. Both Kyle Edmund, who had an ankle injury concern earlier in the week, and James Ward are alternates for Team GB but were not included in the formal nominations. “I went for a scan last night” The British number three Edmund said. “And when it came back it showed nothing, just a little bit of a bump, that’s it.” Despite the results, Smith went for a player nobody expected to be drafted in. Dan Evans was chosen over Ward and Edmund as the second singles player.
“It wasn’t an easy one but having thought about it a lot, the fact that Dan has played an awful lot of tennis this summer, won a lot of matches, I said the other day it’s obvious at Futures level that winning really helps, and he comes with a lot of confidence.” The GB captain said. “Obviously Kyle, although he’s almost fit, he still had a fall the other day and I think at this stage it was wasn’t worth risking anything happening over the weekend especially when you go in with the make-up of two singles players and two doubles players, if anything had happened with Kyle Friday we would have been up against it. “For James, the tie came maybe the wrong time for him after a summer that’s been quite tough results wise, but he’s played a big, big part in the team to date and I’m sure he’ll play a big part in the future as well, but I felt that Dan was in the best place to win for the weekend.”
Australia are bidding for their first title in 12 years, and one man remains from that victories team back in 2003. Hewitt is making his final appearance in the Davis Cup this year, and boy he would love to go out on a bang. The former two time grand slam champion is joined by Bernard Tomic, Sam Groth and Thanasi Kokkanakis as they look to combine youth and experience to take down the Brits. “Yeah it obviously means a lot [to play his last Davis Cup]” Hewitt said. “It is my last year playing, and it is a great opportunity. “With my experience and the other boys’ youth, I think we have really mixed it up well this year” “I think as a team we have gotten stronger as the year has gone on, which is a really good sign. We are here to put our best foot forward and we won’t be leaving anything in the locker room that’s for sure.”
The noticeable omission is their number two player, Nick Kyrgios. The 20 year old ‘bad boy’ of tennis recently was surrounded in controversy after comments made about Stan Wawrinka’s girlfriend. The Aussie is serving a one month suspension from the ATP, but he still eligible to play Davis Cup, so he was just left out of the squad. “After Nick played Andy at the US Open we sat down two days later. Nick has had a really full year in more ways than one, so we just kind of felt mutually that this was the best fit for him and the team.” Said Aussie captain, Wally Masur.
The draw to see who will play who was made on Thursday, and here is how it came out.
First rubber: Murray vs Kokkanakis
The British number one, Murray, will face Aussie youngster, Kokkanakis in the first rubber tomorrow afternoon. The pair know each other well due to practicing a lot together and playing doubles in Miami. However this is their first competitive meeting. “Yeah it will be a tough match obviously.” Murray said of the Kokkanakis challenge “I practiced with him a lot and have spent a lot of time watching him as well, and speaking to him. So I know for one of the younger guys, I know his game better than most. “You know we have practiced together at the French Open and the US Open, we obviously played doubles together as well in Miami, so I know his game well and obviously it will be a tough match. But at the same time it’s a tough match-up for him as well, you know the atmosphere is going to be challenging for them as well, and that’s something that will hopefully give us a big boost.
The Aussie meanwhile is relishing the opportunity to play one of the world’s best players on this big of a stage. “Yeah should be a great challenge up ahead, great player and to play him in his home ground in Glasgow will be a huge opportunity for me. I like the courts here, boys have been training really well, and it’s going to be a huge honour to play. Thank you guys for picking me again, and to play first up, I’ll be ready to go.” Kokkanakis said.
Second Rubber: Evans vs Tomic
The only time these two met was two years ago at the US Open when Evans shocked Tomic with a four sets win. The Australian number one will now look to avenge that loss in the second rubber tomorrow evening. “Honestly? I was up 6-1 3-0 and couldn’t make a ball after that, and that’s all I remember.” Tomic said in recollection of that match in New York. “It was a very windy day, it was tough, he was very confident at the moment and he beat Nishikori prior to me. So he was playing well, I had a chance, I was comfortable I was cruising, obviously he started playing more free, and he beat me so it’s not an easy match, it’s very tough for me.”
“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.” Evans said. “Everyone, they do remember when you’ve played someone before, like I remember when I’ve lost to someone before – that’s always in someone’s head as well.” “I think coming back to Scotland is nice, I mean the atmosphere last time when I watched it on television sounded very good but it was obviously better in the stadium so yeah, I’m looking forward to it.”
You can catch all the Davis Cup action on Tennis Atlantic.