Andy Murray and team-mates can take heart from Great Britain’s impressive history of defending the Davis Cup when they begin their title defence with a first-round tie against Japan in Birmingham tomorrow.
The last time Great Britain won the competition before last year’s triumph, it marked a fourth straight year that they had won tennis’s foremost international competition between 1933 and 1936.
Yet such dominance of the tournament has become extinct in the Open Era and should Leon Smith’s team win this year’s tournament they would be only the third country to do so this century following Spain’s back-to-back triumph in 2008 and 2009 and the Czech Republic’s victories in 2012 and 2013.
Perhaps more significantly, if they can hold onto their crown they would be the first team without at least two players ranked in the top 50 to win consecutive Davis Cups in the Open Era.
Since the Open Era began in 1968, Sweden, Germany and the United States are the only other countries to have won the Davis Cup in consecutive years.
Despite last year’s triumph being Great Britain’s first in the competition for 79 years, it made them the third most successful nation in its history with 10 titles to their name, although they are a way off Australia on 28 and the United States on 32.
However, 25 of the United States’s wins, 23 of Australia’s and nine of Great Britain’s were all secured before 1967 when a reigning champion was simply required to win a final one-off game after the best challenger emerged from the preceding rounds.
In 1972 the format of the competition was altered to require the holders to compete in all rounds, making the feat of retaining a title both harder and less common.
Great Britain’s task is not made any easier this year by a tricky looking draw against a Japan team featuring world No6 Kei Nishikori, in which the reward of a victory would likely be a quarter-final against a Novak Djokovic-led Serbia.
When is the Davis Cup first round?
The first round of the Davis Cup begins on Friday and runs through to Sunday, with play between Japan and Great Britain beginning at 1pm on Friday and Sunday and 2pm on Saturday afternoon.
Where is it?
The tie will take place at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham.
Where can I watch it?
The game is being broadcast live on BBC Two.
Who is playing for Great Britain?
British No1 Andy Murray and Daniel Evans, ranked No157 in the world, will play the four singles ties while Dominic Inglot and Jamie Murray team up for the doubles.
When are the future ties?
- Quarter-finals: 15 - 17 July
- Semi-finals: 16 - 18 September
- Final: 25 - 27 November
Who could Great Britain's opponents be?
Serbia are favourites to be the quarter-finals opponents should Great Britain beat Japan, while either Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland are the most likely to make the semi-finals on their side of the draw.