Tennis

Davis Cup win would be Andy Murray's greatest achievement

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Wimbledon 2013, Olympic Gold at London 2012, US Open 2012.

That's the ranking of Andy Murray's highest achievements to date and with the Davis Cup final in a little over two months time, a win in Belgium could surpass them all.

Having defeated the USA, France and Australia, the three most successful nations in the history of the tournament, Great Britain will go into the final with Belgium as slight favourites. 

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Team GB's most impressive win was the quarter-final win over top seeds and last year's runners-up, France. Despite having three in-form top 20 players, GB won comfortably 3-1, thanks to the efforts of Andy and his brother Jamie.

Murray faces Tour Finals dilemma

The season-ending ATP World Tour Finals, held at the O2 Arena in London, finishes just five days before the start of the Davis Cup final. Murray has already qualified for the tournament but is reportedly going to withdraw. 

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It's a tournament that ranks only below Grand Slams and Murray would miss out on a potential 1500 ranking points, but if it means he could win a Davis Cup title, it seems like the obvious choice.

It's not just a regular tournament either, you are up against opponents who are in the top eight in the world from the get-go and there's no respite. 

You face up against the very best in every match and although it's only over three sets, it's punishing nonetheless and Murray would need time off, even if he were knocked out in the group stage. 

Roger Federer made it to the final of the Tour Finals last year but withdrew at the last minute so he could focus on winning a first Davis Cup title. 

He actually went on to lose his first rubber against Gael Monfils, but the Swiss duo of Federer and Stan Wawrinka prevailed to add another trophy to his ever-growing list of achievements.

Another huge factor is the surface. The Tour Finals are played on a fast, indoor hard court whereas the Belgians are expected to host the Davis Cup final on a clay court to gain an advantage. 

It's Murray's weakest surface, but he has had huge success on it this year, winning successive tournaments in Madrid and Munich and also reaching the semi-finals at Roland Garros. 

No doubt it will give the Belgians an edge, but it might prove more of an issue for his brother Jamie in the doubles than it will for Andy in the singles.

Crucial doubles rubber

The doubles has proved to be the crucial decider in the last two ties for GB, with the Americans defeating Jamie Murray and Dom Inglot in the first round, GB required an inspired performance from James Ward to defeat John Isner. 

If it wasn't for that, the doubles loss would have been vital and the final will be no different. Murray will be expected to win both of his singles rubbers again, leaving a win in the doubles to secure the title.

 Whoever plays as the second singles player for GB won't be expected to win, so it's not something GB can hold out for, a win in the doubles is much more achievable.

In the last two ties, Murray has opted to play alongside his brother Jamie and they have proved to be a formidable force. They defeated France's Nicolas Mahut and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga with relative ease and then Australia's Lleyton Hewitt and Sam Groth in an epic five-setter.

 The passion shown from the Murray brothers is clear to see and pairing that with their ability on the court is a joy to watch. Murray would be an outstanding doubles player on the main tour if he wanted to be and Jamie Murray has reached the last two Grand Slam finals with Aussie partner John Peers.

Playing at home in all of the ties so far though has proved to be extremely beneficial for all involved. It's hard to imagine that Ward would have beaten Isner without the Glasgow roar behind him. 

The Belgian crowd were the same in their semi-final win over Argentina. They've never won the Davis Cup and hadn't reached a final in 111 years, they will be going absolutely nuts in November.

Second singles spot up for grabs

With the doubles expected to be a tight contest, a win from GB's second singles player would ease the pressure on Murray and would all but ensure the title. 

James Ward was terrific with the home crowd behind him but facing an away crowd might be a tougher challenge, especially against two high quality opponents in David Goffin and Steve Darcis. 

His record since Wimbledon has also been extremely poor and hence why he was dropped for Dan Evans for the Australia tie.

Evans came in and gave Bernard Tomic a run for his money at times and he's another player who loves the home crowd. 

His methods are questionable, with his lack of commitment often criticised, but his talent is in no doubt and on his day, he can beat almost anyone. 

As for Kyle Edmund, he is the only eligible player for GB who is anywhere near the top 100 and was expected to be picked ahead of Evans if it wasn't for an ankle injury worry. 

But for him to come in for the final, having never played Davis Cup, would be a surprise selection. If he keeps up his form though, there would be no doubt that he would deserve it and it would almost be a no-lose situation if he was to be picked.

History beckons

Great Britain last won the Davis Cup way back in 1936 with Fred Perry and Bunny Austin leading the team to victory and the last time they made the final was 1978. 

It would be a momentous occasion for two boys from Dunblane, Scotland to lead a nation to their first win in 79 years and the Murray's would go down in British tennis history forever, something to be hugely proud of.

It's become an increasingly difficult tournament to win and a little bit of luck is often involved nowadays. If the big boys turn up, it would be hard to see how Great Britain would beat a full-strength Serbia, Switzerland or Spain side. 

But with the likes of Djokovic, Federer and Nadal all reaching the latter stages of Grand Slams year after year, the Davis Cup is very inconvenient for them, as it has been for Murray. 

It is played the weekend after the Grand Slams of the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open and if the top players are reaching the final of a Grand Slam on the Sunday, they are unlikely to be equipped to play on the following Friday.

Take nothing away from Great Britain and Andy Murray though, they've defeated three very strong nations who all fielded their strongest sides available and Belgium will be no different in the final.

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Topics:
Andy Murray
Tennis

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