Great Britain’s Davis Cup defence continues this weekend in Glasgow with a familiar foe in their sights. Argentina had the upper hand in previous Davis Cup meetings between the two nations but with home crowd advantage, there is an expectation that Britain will reach their second consecutive final.
The draw for the first match means a repeat of the recent Olympic Games gold medal match. With Juan Martin Eel Potro ranked second in the Argentine squad as he recovers from a wrist injury, he faces Britain’s Andy Murray in the opening singles match.
It leaves Kyle Edmund, fresh from a relatively successful US Open, to face Argentine number one Guido Pella. The pair met for the first time in Indiana Wells earlier this year with the Pella winning in three sets.
But it’s Murray v Del Potro which whets the appetite. The stamina-sapping heat of Rio is gone, replaced Murray hopes, by a cauldron of noise in Glasgow’s Emirates Arena, wiping out any sense of tiredness which may haunt the British team.
In Argentina’s favour is experience. This is their eleventh semi-final in the last fifteen years, a quite phenomenal record. Away from home, in a hostile atmosphere: been there, done that – we don’t want them to get the t-shirt this year.
Murray also partners his brother against Leonardo Mayer and Federico Delbonis in Saturday’s doubles match before facing Pella. The hope is that Edmund won’t need to play Del Potro in the final rubber on Sunday.
It won’t be straightforward for Britain to win with much resting on Andy Murray’s shoulders but the remaining trio have provided ample support in the past. Edmund was particularly impressive in the win over Serbia in the last round.
The 21 year-old’s first appearance as the lead player in the British team was superb; he didn’t drop a set in his two matches, responding positively to the pressure as it piled onto him. Reaching the fourth round of the US Open will have only boosted his self-belief.
If Britain win, there is a strong possibility that they will face Croatia at home. Their semi-final opponents France, are riven by injury. Having lost Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, US Open semi-finalist Gael Monfils has also withdrawn. That means Lucas Pouille is their number one player with Richard Gasquet in the supporting role.
Croatia, captained Marin Cilic, were impressive in beating the USA in the last round and are now strong favourites to progress.
The British would prefer them to but winning in France’s backyard present no more of a challenge than last year’s win Ghent. For the first time in eighty years, Britain has the very real prospect of consecutive finals and the pride with which the team has so faced their challenges this year means they are not fazed by them in the way quartets of the past have been.
Glasgow, it’s over to you.