Davis Cup 2015: James Ward and Dominic Inglot hold the key to Britain's hopes against the United States

If Andy Murray wins his two singles matches, Britain will need one more victory from the remaining three rubbers

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The Independent Online

The return of the Murray brothers to Scotland has inevitably been the focus of attention, but if Britain are to beat the United States in the Davis Cup here this weekend they may well need at least one of their two Arsenal-supporting Londoners, James Ward and Dominic Inglot, to provide an upset.

Ward, who struck the decisive blow when the teams met in San Diego last year by beating Sam Querrey, will be aiming to upset the odds again when he faces John Isner (world No 20) in Friday’s second singles following the opener between Andy Murray and Donald Young. The tie, nevertheless, could well go down to Sunday’s concluding rubber in the Emirates Arena between Ward, the world No 111, and Young, the world No 47.

Andy Murray, meanwhile, said that he was “unlikely” to play in Saturday's doubles, which would open the way for Inglot to partner Jamie Murray against Bob and Mike Bryan, the most successful pair in history.

If Andy Murray wins his two singles, Britain will need one more victory from the remaining three rubbers – Ward’s two singles and the doubles – to secure a second-round meeting at home to France or Germany.

Leon Smith, Britain’s captain, has named Jamie Murray and Inglot for the doubles but can change his line-up on the day.

Andy-Murray.jpg
World No 5 Andy Murray should win his singles rubbers (Reuters)

Much could depend on the outcome of today’s matches. If Britain win both, Andy Murray may well be rested ahead of Sunday’s reverse singles, but if the score is 1-1 it would be a surprise if the world No 5 does not play.

Would Smith, another Scot, be bold enough to disappoint most of the crowd by pairing Inglot with Andy Murray instead of teaming up the brothers?

Jamie Murray is ranked six places higher than Inglot, but “Dom the Bomb” has beaten the Bryans twice this year – in the Australian Open and in Dubai last week – alongside his regular partner, Romania’s Florin Mergea.

It was hard to tell whether mind games were being played, but the Bryans talked up Inglot’s talents.

“He’s got one of the biggest serves in the game,” Mike Bryan said. “He’s aggressive, he’s a big guy and not really lob-able. He’s all over the net. He plays with a lot of power, which is the kind of the new age of doubles, the power game. So you’ve got to find a way to break him, which is tough. If I was the coach, it would be tough to leave off the team a guy who has a  hot hand.”

Meanwhile, the Davis Cup records of both Ward and Isner illustrate how rankings can count for nothing in this competition. Ward has beaten both Querrey and Russia’s Dmitry Tursunov, bridging gaps of 126 and 147 places in the world rankings respectively, while Isner is the only player who has beaten Roger Federer in Switzerland in the Davis Cup in the last 12 years but has also lost to an opponent (Chile’s Paul Capdeville) ranked 133 places below him.

 

“I don’t know what it is about the Davis Cup that brings out the best in me,” Ward said. “It is obviously a bit different playing in a team to playing on your own. I always enjoy these weeks and some of my best results have come during these times.”

Isner, who admitted that the comparatively slow court here could make his big serve less of a factor, said: “Players can sometimes rise to the occasion. You aren’t playing for yourself, you’re playing for your country out there. I’ve certainly had some very good wins being the underdog before and some losses when I was the favourite. Even though I’m ranked ahead of James, I know it’s going to be tough.”

Ward and Isner have never met on the tour, but the Briton beat him in the exhibition tournament at Kooyong before this year’s Australian Open. “I learned a little bit from that match but I’ve known James for quite a while now,” Isner said. “We’ve practised together quite a few times in Florida and practised at tournaments. The atmosphere in that exhibition wasn’t as electric as it will be tomorrow, so I don’t draw too much from that match. Maybe he does, but Saturday is a completely different animal.”

Andy Murray has beaten Young in their last three meetings and dropped only six games against him in San Diego last year, but the 25-year-old American has been in good form recently, reaching the semi-finals in Memphis and the final in Delray Beach.

“Now I feel a lot more comfortable and confident than I was last year,” Young said. “That was my first Davis Cup match, so I had a ton of nerves at the start of the match. It was always going to be tough, anyway, because he’s a great player. But I feel better and more confident now.”

Great Britain vs US: Weekend schedule

Friday: Opening singles

1pm A Murray v D Young; J Ward v J Isner

TV BBC2

Saturday: Doubles

1pm D Inglot/J Murray v  B Bryan/M Bryan

TV BBC1

Sunday: Closing singles

1pm A Murray v J Isner; J Ward v D Young

TV BBC1

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