PARIS: Andy Murray and brother Jamie lead Great Britain’s bid for a first Davis Cup final appearance in 37 years against Australia in a hotly anticipated semifinal clash in Glasgow on Friday (Saturday in Manila).
In the second semifinal Belgium take on Argentina in Brussels, with neither country having ever lifted the coveted salad bowl trophy awaiting the winner.
Britain tackles old sporting foes Australia in front of a partisan crowd at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow when the first two singles rubbers are staged on Friday.
Saturday (Sunday in Manila) will likely feature the Murrays in the pivotal doubles while Australia, captained by Wally Masur, will be led by world number 23 Bernard Tomic and iconic 34-year-old veteran Leyton Hewitt.
Australia won the last of their 28 titles in 2003 when Hewitt was in the team as a 22-year-old, beating Spain 3-1 in Melbourne.
Scotland’s Murray brothers can expect passionate home support in Glasgow and Jamie believes they have what it takes to win the competition for the first time since 1936, which was Britain’s ninth crown.
“If we’re being honest, if we’ve got Andy in our team then we’ve got a great chance to beat anyone,” the elder Murray said.
“If we perform like we can over the course of the weekend then I think we have a great chance to win, but if we don’t they’ve got players that would be able to beat us.”
Jamie suggested home support will be a massive boost to Britain.
“We played there against the States in March and it was brilliant, so we know what to expect,” he said.
“The crowd were so loud. Obviously being indoors everything is captured, you don’t lose anything, and it was pretty noisy!
“Took a bit of getting used to. Obviously there’ll be more people in the stadium this time so I expect it will be very noisy!”
“Obviously now we’ve got a great opportunity to reach the final — I’m sure Australia are looking at it that way as well. I think both teams will fancy their chances to win and it should be a great tie again,” predicted Murray.
Andy’s last on-court appearance was at the US Open where he was surprisingly knocked out by South African Kevin Anderson in the fourth round.
Jamie reached the doubles final in New York alongside Australian John Peers, only to lose against French pair Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
A concern for British captain Leon Smith in the lead-up has been the fitness of Kyle Edmond who had an ankle scan this week and is battling with James Ward for the second singles spot.
“It’s all fine,” said Smith, who will lead a British team in a semi-final tie for the first time since a 5-0 whitewash against Argentina in 1981.
The second last-four matchup in the Belgian capital sees world number 15 David Goffin spearheading Johan Van Herck’s home side against the experienced South Americans, with both teams looking to break their winless duck.
The fixture looks finely balanced, with world number 64 Steve Darcis likely to fill the second single’s role for Belgium, against an Argentina side captained by Daniel Orsanic.
The visitors are missing injured former US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro leaving world number 39 Leonardo Mayer as their highest ranked player. He is backed up by Frederico Delbonis, Diego Schwartzman and Carlos Berlocq.
Argentina have remarkably played in 10 of the past 14 Davis Cup semi-finals but they won only three of those ties and lost on each occasion in the final.
Belgium are back in the last four for the first time since 1999 and will be spurred on by knowing they will host the final in November should they progress.