If you are anything like me, many of you will have spent the days since that fantastic weekend in Glasgow in a dream-like state, re-watching television highlights that, although good, do not come close to the spine-tingling atmosphere of the Emirates Arena. Have we really reached the final? Was it only 5 years ago that we were staring at the bottom rung of the competition? Are we really only 3 rubbers from ending 79 years of hurt?
Much has been made of the importance of Andy Murray to the team. To have a player ranked in the top 3 is undeniably a huge advantage. Andy’s commitment to the competition, particularly over recent years, has been inspiring. Rarely does a tennis player have an opportunity to compete in a team, let alone alongside a sibling, and his gold medal at London 2012 must have further fuelled Andy’s clear desire to reach the pinnacle of team tennis. Andy was clearly in discomfort with his back during the semifinal but his determination was evident from the first serve to the last.
Let us not forget, however, that Davis Cup ties are not won in two rubbers. Dan Evans and James Ward have played important roles over the years and the development of Kyle Edmund makes the battle for the second singles place an interesting one. Doubles matches are often crucial and may indeed decide the final. We have been fortunate to have many doubles players make important contributions. The doubles rubber of the semifinal was outstanding and will live long in the memory. Andy and Jamie will surely be favourites to start in the final. Dom Inglot will be waiting in the wings though.
A successful team also needs an excellent leader and support staff to succeed and, whilst Andy may be the poster boy for this leadership, Leon Smith has quietly gone about his work as captain in an unassuming yet motivational fashion since being appointed in 2010. Smith’s record speaks for itself- 11-2 win/loss. He clearly has fostered a healthy team spirit that may not always have been present with other captains. Surely a bigger position in British tennis awaits him?
Great Britain will head to Belgium as favourites, on paper at least, but the Belgians will have something to say on the matter. They will be out to avenge their loss to Britain in their last final 111 years ago. Home advantage, too, cannot be overstated.
To Leon, Andy, Jamie Murray, James, Dan, Dom, Colin, Ross, Jonny, Jamie Baker and all those involved in the team over the past few years we say thank you and good luck. Bring on the Belgians!