Murray Commits To Davis Cup Defence

Great Britain's Davis Cup defence received a boost on the eve of the first-round clash against Japan with Andy Murray declaring himself committed for the long haul.

The Scot produced a heroic effort last year to guide Britain to an unexpected first title in 79 years and it appears he is ready to do the same again.

Murray had always expressed his intention to play this match in Birmingham despite the proximity to the arrival of his daughter but had hinted he would not play a potential quarter-final in July because of the packed schedule.

The last-eight matches are immediately after Wimbledon and are followed by a Masters series event in Canada, the Olympics and the US Open.

Murray has made the defence of his Olympic gold medal one of his priorities but insisted he is planning to play in all this year's Davis Cup ties if fit.

First, Britain must focus on beating Japan, with Murray due to play his first competitive match in more than a month on Friday when he takes on American-born Led Zeppelin fan Taro Daniel.

The world number two took a fortnight away from tennis following Sophia's birth on February 7 and is waiting to find out how fatherhood affects him on court.

He said: "I still practise hard and do all the same things I was doing before. I will find out if it is different on Friday or not. But it can only be a positive thing.

"I don't see it being negative at all, in terms of my career. And it is not the end of the world if it is as I now have something more important.''

Captain Leon Smith will announce his team ahead of the draw on Thursday but has a potential injury problem to contend with after Kyle Edmund felt a niggle in his back.

The 21-year-old, the highest-ranked singles player available to Smith besides Murray, brought an early end to his practice session but is confident of being fit.

Edmund said: "Being a tennis player you get niggles now and again. Obviously it's a concern this close to the match but I think I'll be able to recover in time.''

Edmund and local boy Dan Evans are vying for the number two spot, while Murray will see how he feels after Friday's match before deciding whether to play doubles with his brother, as he did in three of the rounds last year.

The tie could come down to a clash between the number ones on Sunday, when Murray will take on world number six Kei Nishikori - the highest-ranked player he has faced in the competition.

Nishikori, who has lost five of his six matches against Murray, is not taking much comfort from the Scot's lay-off, saying: "He did great in Australia so it's not like he hasn't played for a long time, so it's not going to change much.''

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