LONDON: Andy Murray is set to make his first competitive appearance since becoming a father after being confirmed on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) in the team that will begin Great Britain’s defense of their Davis Cup title against Japan.
Murray has not played since losing to Novak Djokovic in last month’s Australian Open final, opting instead to spend time with new daughter Sophia, born on February 7, and wife Kim Sears.
But having inspired Britain to their first Davis triumph in 79 years with victory over Belgium in Ghent in November, it was no surprise that the 28-year-old was included in captain Leon Smith’s team for next week’s first-round tie against Japan in Birmingham, central England.
“Andy Murray has once again demonstrated his commitment to the team and his country in making himself available to play, especially so soon after becoming a father,” Smith told the Lawn Tennis Association’s website.
“His outstanding performance at the Australian Open is further evidence that he is one of the world’s best players,” Smith added.
Also included in a five-man squad, which will eventually be trimmed to four for the tie proper, was Murray’s older brother Jamie, a doubles specialist.
While Andy, a former US Open and Wimbledon champion, endured heartache when losing the Australian singles final to Djokovic in January, Melbourne proved a happy hunting round for Jamie who, together with Brazil’s Bruno Soares, won the Australian Open doubles title last month.
“Jamie Murray is arguably the most in form doubles player in world tennis, currently at a career high ranking of number two and continues to show signs of improvement,” said Smith. “He made vital contributions to our 2015 Davis Cup campaign and is playing the best tennis of his life right now.”
However, Smith added: “Japan have a very strong team, progressed well in recent years and with Kei Nishikori have an established top-10 player.
“It will be a test for us but I’m confident in our team and I’m sure when the guys pull on their GB shirt they will give their all.
“We are lucky to have another home tie and it’s exciting to be returning to Birmingham.”
Britain were languishing in the third tier of the Davis Cup, the sport’s leading international men’s team event, before Smith took over as skipper in 2010 but, thanks mainly to Andy Murray, have enjoyed a rapid rise in recent years.
The winners of the Britain-Japan tie will face either Serbia or Kazakhstan in a July 15 to 17 quarterfinals.