DAVIS CUP FINAL
Flanders Expo, Ghent (indoor clay)
BEL 0 0 GBR
Friday (12.30 GMT)
David Goffin v Kyle Edmund
Ruben Bemelmans v Andy Murray
Saturday (14:00 GMT)
Kimmer Coppejans/Steve Darcis v Jamie Murray/Andy Murray
Sunday (12:00 GMT)
David Goffin v Andy Murray
Ruben Bemelmans v Kyle Edmund
ANDY MURRAY will aim to add another landmark title to his collection as he leads Great Britain into its first Davis Cup final for 37 years against Belgium in Ghent this weekend.
The reigning Olympic and two-time Grand Slam champion has insisted the focus in the British camp is on a team effort - but the truth is that, without Murray, Great Britain simply would not be at this event.
Indeed, the Dunblane man has featured in 15 of Britain's last 18 victorious rubbers, either in the singles or the doubles, going back to 2013.
And only Dan Evans' dead rubber win against Mate Pavic of Croatia in 2013, and James Ward's glorious double over United States pair Sam Querrey in 2014 and John Isner in 2015 have not featured Murray.
It would be entirely churlish, though, not to consider in any way the strides which the Great Britain Davis Cup team has made under the captaincy of Leon Smith.
Smith, after all, has not always had Murray to call upon, and he has done an excellent job with Britain, winning 11 out of 13 ties over a period of more than five years.
The first of those victories came in July 2010 against Turkey in a playoff to avoid being relegated to Europe/Africa zone Group III alongside the likes of Albania, Andorra, Malta and San Marino.
Thankfully, Britain won 5-0 - without the help of Murray - before a clean sweep of home wins over Tunisia, Luxembourg and Hungary in 2011 promoted the team to the second tier.
A third successive win in Glasgow, over Slovakia in 2012, gave rise to the hope that Britain might get the chance of a playoff to qualify for the World Group in 2013.
But those hopes were dashed - by Belgium, as it happens - as a Murray-less outfit went down to a 4-1 defeat.
Since then, though, there has only been one further set back, in last year's quarter final defeat against Italy in Naples - and Britain bounced back from that in style in March with their second win in just over a year against the Americans.
Murray inevitably set that tie up, beating Donald Young in four sets 6-1 6-1 4-6 6-2 before Ward's amazing comeback from two sets down to defeat Isner 15-13 in the fifth.
The Bryan twins, Bob and Mike, enjoyed their own dramatic doubles win, 9-7 in the fifth against Dom Inglot and Jamie Murray, to keep the tie alive for the United States.
But older brother Andy wrapped up victory with a straight sets win over Isner featuring two tie-breakers.
The Murrays were vital again in July against France in the quarter finals at Queen's in London.
Andy's straight sets victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and four-set win over Gilles Simon sandwiched the brothers' doubles win over Tsonga and Nicolas Mahut, after Simon had given the French an early lead in the tie against Ward.
Then, finally, in the semi finals in September, Australia were dispatched in a 3-2 success for Britain.
Andy opened proceedings with a straight sets win over Thanasi Kokkinakis before Evans lost to Bernard Tomic in four on the first day.
No fear - the Murray brothers delivered again, beating Sam Groth and Lleyton Hewitt in another five-setter, before Andy sealed Britain's place in the Final with another straight sets win, this time over Tomic.
Now that they are there, of course, the emphasis must be on victory. After all, it is not as if these opportunities come along too often for British tennis.
This is, in fact, Britain's first appearance in a Davis Cup final since 1978 when a John McEnroe-inspired American team prevailed 4-1 in California.
Furthermore, it is only Britain's second final appearance since the glory days of Fred Perry and Bunny Austin in the 1930s.
It should be noted that this has not been an easy week for the British team who delayed their flight to Ghent for 24 hours over security fears.
The Flemish town lies just 35 miles away from the Belgian capital Brussels which remains on a high state of alert amid the threat of a Paris-style terrorist attack.
Nevertheless, Andy Murray has described the team as "comfortable" ahead of the tie.
The final - to be played on an indoor clay court - begins today at 12.30pm GMT as 20-year-old Kyle Edmund remarkably becomes just the sixth man to make his Davis Cup debut in the showpiece event. The previous five, including Pete Sampras, all lost their first match.
Murray follows later in the afternoon and he will be strong favourite against world number 108, Ruben Bemelmans, before the doubles take place on Saturday.
Andy will feature again alongside Jamie against Belgian pair Kimmer Coppejans and Steve Darcis before the last - and likely decisive - day on Sunday when Andy will take on David Goffin and Edmund faces Bemelmans.
Harsh as it may sound on Edmund, it already looks at this stage as if Britain are gambling on Murray maintaining his form and fitness following another strong year for the world number two.
That would suggest match four between Murray and Goffin is being viewed as the likely finish line for Britain - and so it is worth pointing out that Murray beat his opponent 6-1 6-0 in the Paris Masters semi finals earlier this month.
Of course, in front of a crowd of 13,000 mostly Belgian supporters at the Flanders Expo, it may not be as straightforward.
Undoubtedly, though, Murray must win his matches if Britain is to prevail and he is to make history once again.
BRITAIN'S PREVIOUS DAVIS CUP FINALS
P17 W9 L8 F48 A35
1900 lost 0-3 v United States
1902 lost 2-3 v United States
1903 won 4-1 v United States
1904 won 5-0 v Belgium
1905 won 5-0 v United States
1906 won 5-0 v United States
1907 lost 2-3 v Australasia
1912 won 3-2 v Australasia
1913 lost 2-3 v United States
1919 lost 1-4 v Australasia
1931 lost 2-3 v France
1933 won 3-2 v France
1934 won 4-1 v United States
1935 won 5-0 v United States
1936 won 3-2 v Australia
1937 lost 1-4 v United States
1978 lost 1-4 v United States
OUT OF THE WILDERNESS
How Britain has progressed from a relegation playoff to Europe/Africa III to the Davis Cup final in five years (bolded W = win featured Andy Murray (in singles or doubles))
|2010||Europe/Africa II, r1||Vilnius (LTU)||2-3||v Lithuania||WLWLL|
|Europe/Africa II, p/o||Eastbourne (GBR)||5-0||v Turkey||WWWWW|
|2011||Europe/Africa II, r1||Bolton (GBR)||4-1||v Tunisia||LWWWW|
|Europe/Africa II, r2||Glasgow (GBR)||4-1||v Luxembourg||LWWWW|
|Europe/Africa II, r3||Glasgow (GBR)||5-0||v Hungary||WWWWW|
|2012||Europe/Africa I, r1||Glasgow (GBR)||3-2||v Slovakia||WLWLW|
|Europe/Africa I, r2||Glasgow (GBR)||1-4||v Belgium||LLWLL|
|2013||Europe/Africa I, r2||Coventry (GBR)||3-2||v Russia||LLWWW|
|World Group, p/o||Umag (CRO)||4-1||v Croatia||WLWWW|
|2014||World Group, r1||San Diego (USA)||3-1||v United States||WWLW|
|World Group, QF||Napoli (ITA)||2-3||v Italy||LWWLL|
|2015||World Group, r1||Glasgow (GBR)||3-2||v United States||WWLWL|
|World Group, QF||London (GBR)||3-1||v France||LWWW|
|World Group, SF||Glasgow (GBR)||3-2||v Australia||WLWWL|
BELGIUM'S ROUTE TO THE FINAL
|2015||World Group, r1||Liege (BEL)||3-2||v Switzerland||LWWLW|
|World Group, QF||Middelkerke (BEL)||5-0||v Canada||WWWWW|
|World Group, SF||Brussels (BEL)||3-2||v Argentina||WLLWW|