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Davis Cup return for Any Murray

By Tom Allnutt

Andy Murray will lead Great Britain next week in his first outing since becoming a father as the team begin the defence of their Davis Cup title with an opening-round match against Japan.

Murray has not played since losing the Australian Open final to Novak Djokovic at the end of January, in order to spend time with his new daughter Sophia Olivia, who was born on February 7, and wife Kim.

The 28-year-old, though, has been named in an initial five-strong group for the first-round clash against Japan, which begins on Friday, March 4 in Birmingham.

Great Britain captain Leon Smith has also named Murray's brother Jamie, Kyle Edmund, Dan Evans and doubles specialist Dom Inglot in the team, but will have to trim his selection down to four for the tie.

"I'm delighted to name the five players for this first round match," said Smith.

"Japan have a very strong team, progressed well in recent years and in Kei Nishikori have an established top-10 player."

Great Britain became Davis Cup champions for the first time in 79 years in November by beating Belgium in Ghent.

Last season's astonishing run capped a remarkable rise for a team that was playing in the third tier of the Davis Cup before Smith's arrival in April 2010.

The younger of the Murray brothers has been the on-court catalyst with a number of inspirational performances en-route to the final, particularly against France at the last-eight stage.

"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 added.

"His outstanding performance at the Australian Open is further evidence that he is one of the world's best players."

Smith also believes Jamie Murray, fresh from claiming the Australian Open men's doubles title with Bruno Soares last month, is a vital weapon in Great Britain's armoury.

Smith said: "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.

"He made vital contributions to our 2015 Davis Cup campaign and is playing the best tennis of his life right now."

The winners of the tie will face a quarter-final clash against either Serbia or Kazakhstan from 15-17 July.

Belfast Telegraph

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