Great Britain were handed a double boost on the eve of their Davis Cup clash against the United States.
Captain Leon Smith revealed early yesterday he would leave Andy Murray to decide whether he is capable of playing three games in as many days in GB’s first World Group quarter-final since 1986, and last night the Wimbledon champion opted to take on the challenge.
The Scot is still feeling his way back into the rigours of the main tour after back surgery and was last week knocked out of the Australian Open at the quarter-final stage.
Yet, with Britain’s hopes resting largely on his shoulders, the two-times grand slam winner has been provisionally scheduled to play both singles matches as well as tomorrow’s doubles encounter in San Diego.
Smith’s team were further lifted by the United States Tennis Association’s announcement that big-serving world No 13 John Isner was a late withdrawal with an ankle injury.
The American No 1 will be replaced by world No 79 Donald Young, who will be making his Davis Cup debut, with Sam Querrey also competing in the singles.
Smith will be taking nothing for granted, however, and will be keeping a close eye on Murray, who, barring a late change, will partner Colin Fleming in the doubles.
“That’s the unknown, everyone who has spoken to Andy says he wants to play doubles, he wants to play all three matches and he’s still the best player on the court,” Smith told BBC Sport.
“If he’s fit and healthy, he plays, but we will have to see how demanding the Friday match has been and it’s not until Saturday morning when he sees how his body is after the first few steps that we make a decision on it.”
Great Britain’s last Davis Cup meeting with the Americans came in 1999 when Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski fell just short of a memorable win, with Rusedski losing 8-6 to Jim Courier in the deciding set of the match.
That was on the hard courts of Birmingham, with this clash at Petco Park set for a newly-laid clay court which has been causing the players some problems.
“It’s not really clay, it’s slippy, it’s quick and a lot quicker than the ones we play on in Monte Carlo, Rome and Madrid,” Murray said. “It’s been different. I’m hitting the ball fine and am just getting used to the moving. It’s very slippy and will be tough for everyone.”
Querrey has only beaten Murray once in six meetings but the American says he is ready for whatever comes his way, this weekend. “No matter who you play in a Davis Cup match it’s tough,” said Querrey.
“At least I’ve beaten him [Murray] one time, so that gives me a little belief that I can do it again.
“He’s got me five or six times I think but I can go out there and that will be one where I shouldn’t have anything to lose. I can go out there and play aggressive and, hopefully, play well and I think I have a shot to beat him.”
World Group, first round USA v Great Britain (at Petco Park, San Diego, CA)
Great Britain team
Today: Murray v Young and Querrey v Ward (from 7pm GMT)
Tomorrow: B Bryan and M Bryan v Fleming and Murray (from 8pm GMT)
Sunday: Querrey v Murray and Young v Ward (from 7pm GMT)
Matches live on BBC 3.