The Davis Cup has not been kind to Great Britain since Andy Murray led the team to victory almost single-handedly seven years ago.
They have suffered semi-finals defeats, had to navigate tough draws and at one stage stared down the barrel of relegation from the top tier.
But as Leon Smith’s side gather in Glasgow this week for clashes with the USA, the Netherlands and Kazakhstan there are several reasons to look forward with excitement and optimism.
Chief among those is that long-serving captain Smith has rarely, if ever, had a stronger pool of players from which to assemble his Davis Cup team.
His three singles specialists for this week’s matches, Cameron Norrie, Dan Evans and Murray, are all ranked inside the world’s top 50, as is Jack Draper, who might have been selected too had he not been ruled out by injury.
Smith’s two doubles specialists, Joe Salisbury and Neal Skupski, are the world No1 and No3 respectively, with the former beating the latter in the final of the US Open last week.
In Glasgow, Great Britain are also returning to a happy hunting ground. Since 2010, they have won six of their eight Davis Cup ties staged in the Scottish city.
It witnessed narrow wins over USA and Australia on the way to that 2015 triumph. The raucous environment not only lifted the hosts but made a lasting impression on their opponents.
“The atmosphere there over the years when we have played has been brilliant every time, some of my favorite atmospheres that I’ve had,” Murray said last month.
“[Recent US Open semi-finalist] Frances Tiafoe was there as a hitting partner for the American team when we played the States in Glasgow and he said they absolutely loved it.
“Some of the Aussie boys as well, when we played them, they’ve spoken about it as well. It’s a really special atmosphere there so it will be good.”
Tiafoe withdrew from the American Davis Cup team following his extended run at his home Grand Slam but the USA, who Great Britain face on Wednesday, remain formidable and mouthwatering opponents.
Indian Wells winner Taylor Fritz is the highest ranked singles player in a team that also includes Tommy Paul, Jack Sock and Rajeev Ram, who last week partnered Britain’s Salisbury to the men’s doubles title at the US Open.
The Netherlands, who open Group D against Kazakhstan on Tuesday, boast two top-50 players in Botic van de Zandschulp and Tallon Griekspoor, as well as Skupski’s doubles partner Wesley Koolhof.
Great Britain will hope to win the group, with the top two progressing to November’s finals week in Malaga, where eight teams will be whittled down to one champion in a knockout format.
Having gone 76 years without lifting the trophy until Murray’s monumental effort in 2015, they have contended well without much luck in the years since.
Smith’s men got as far as the semi-finals in 2016 and 2019, on both occasions only losing to the eventual winners, Argentina and Spain respectively. Last year, as in 2017, they reached the quarter-finals.
That is the minimum expectation this time. With holders Russia banned and Spain, Serbia and Germany currently missing their star players, the Davis Cup looks wide open.
For now, Murray is just looking forward to this week. “Getting to play home Davis Cup matches again will be brilliant,” he said. “I think we’ve got a really strong team so we definitely have a chance of doing well.”