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Andy Murray vs Ruben Bemelmans Barclays Davis Cup Great Britain vs Belgium tennis live: Murray shoulders British hopes

Hannah Wilks in News 26 Nov 2015
  • Andy Murray vs Ruben Bemelmans Davis Cup final tennis is live from Ghent on Friday at 2.30pm GMT
  • Murray must secure swift win to save energy for doubles and reverse singles in Davis Cup
  • Great Britain relying on Murray to win first Davis Cup title since 1936
Andy Murray (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Andy Murray must secure a swift win for Great Britain against Ruben Bemelmans in the teeth of a hostile crowd in the second rubber of the 2015 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas final. 

Ruben Bemelmans will have been given one job by Belgium Davis Cup captain Johan van Herck as he prepares to face British no. 1 Andy Murray in the second singles rubber of the 2015 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas final: Keep Murray on court for as long as possible. Wear him out.

Van Herck chose to bench Belgian no. 2 Steve Darcis in favour of world no. 108 Ruben Bemelmans for Friday’s opening singles, and it’s quite clear why. While the Belgians would no doubt love it if one of their number pulled off a shock win over Murray on Friday, they have realistically given up that rubber for lost and are keeping Darcis in reserve either for Saturday’s doubles, or for a Sunday singles match that could clinch them the Davis Cup if they have won the doubles or David Goffin beats Murray on Sunday. 

Great Britain doesn’t have that luxury, because its hopes of winning a first Davis Cup since 1936 rest pretty much solely on Murray winning both his singles rubbers and combining with brother Jamie to win the doubles. 

Ironically, Murray is the least rested of all the players, having played an extremely long (albeit successful) season culminating in last week’s World Tour Finals; he has also had to make a quick transition from the indoor hard courts of Paris and London to the clay court of the Flanders Expo in Ghent, which Bemelmans will have been practicing on for some time – his last match was almost three weeks ago.

It’s imperative therefore not just that Murray gets the win, but that he does so quickly. In that situation, you really don’t want an opponent who is an unknown quantity.

‘I don't know [Bemelmans] extremely well, but I've watched some of his matches this year,’ Murray said. ‘I saw him play at the US Open a bit. I saw some of his match against [Stan] Wawrinka. I watched some videos of him playing in the Davis Cup before. I know his game a bit, but actually I don't know the Belgian players that well because I've never played against any of them except Goffin.’

Bemelmans, 27 years old, reached a career-high ranking of world no. 84 in September after beating Gilles Muller and Jack Sock (who retired in the fourth set) to make the third round of the US Open. The Belgian also qualified for the Australian Open and ATP World Tour events in Miami, Nice and Nottingham and played Wimbledon, Washington, D.C. and the US Open via direct entry, but he predominantly plies his trade on the Challenger Tour, winning four career titles including one in 2015 in Le Gosier, where he defeated Edouard Roger-Vasselin in the final. He has four wins in 23 attempts over players ranked inside the top 50 through his entire career, so it’s safe to say he’s outgunned against Murray. 

Bemelmans owns a 3-7 Davis Cup record in singles, last winning a singles rubber in 2013 against Dudi Sela of Israel, while Murray of course is 25-2 in Davis Cup singles and has won all six he has played in 2015. 

But the point of this match for Bemelmans is not to win – although no doubt he would love to. It’s to give Belgium the best chance of winning their first Davis Cup title in history, and he can best achieve that by dragging the match out as much as possible, making Murray win in four or even five sets in the teeth of a hostile crowd.

‘Andy is very solid,’ Bemelmans said. ‘He's no. 2 of the world, so it's going to be very tough. But I'm not going to discuss tactics here. I think we have a clear plan and it's up to me to execute this as well as possible.’

One advantage for Murray is that he has an excellent record against left-handers, with an overall 75-21 win-loss record against left-handers in his career – which is an even better 69-5 when you discount his matches against Rafael Nadal. But he faces a tough task in Ghent to get the quick, clinical win he and Great Britain need. 

Murray and Bemelmans are scheduled on court at the Flanders Expo on Friday at 3.30pm (2.30pm GMT)

 Davis Cup live streaming

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Andy Murray vs Ruben Bemelmans Barclays Davis Cup Great Britain vs Belgium tennis live: Murray shoulders British hopes

Bemelmans counting on crowd support to drag Murray into long battle: Murray vs Bemelmans Davis Cup Great Britain vs Belgium tennis live

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