LONDON (Reuters) - Friendship will be left in the locker room when Andy Murray takes on Thanasi Kokkinakis in the first singles match of Britain’s Davis Cup semi-final against Australia in Glasgow on Friday.
“I expect a tough match,” said the world number three after Thursday’s draw.
”I know Thanasi well. I spend time with him away from the court. He’s a really nice person, very respectful, a hard worker, good manners and all that stuff... I really like him.
“But this weekend we’re obviously rivals, hopefully I’ll be able to use my experience in these situations to my advantage,” added the Scot.
“It can obviously work in a positive way for him that he goes out with no fear but it’s also going to be tough playing in this atmosphere for him. Hopefully I can try and get the first point on the board.”
Britain are trying to reach their first final since 1978 but their number one caused fears for his health when he missed an official dinner on Wednesday, saying he felt unwell.
Murray said on Thursday he felt good but had needed to rest after tough matches and late finishes at the U.S. Open.
Britain have opted for 25-year-old Dan Evans, ranked 300th in the world, for the second singles slot and he plays 23rd-ranked Bernard Tomic.
U.S. Open doubles runner-up Jamie Murray will team up with Dominic Inglot, who reached the men’s doubles semis in Flushing Meadows, for the third rubber against Samuel Groth and Lleyton Hewitt on Saturday.
Evans, who had been due to play a challenger event in Istanbul, was preferred over Kyle Edmund and James Ward for the second singles slot.
Edmund is ranked 100th in the world but had never played a Davis Cup tie and fell heavily in practice this week while Ward has lost his last 10 matches.
Britain captain Leon Smith said it had not been an easy decision to make, but added. “I‘m confident we’ve gone with the right team.”
Britain are in the semi-finals of the men’s team event for the first time since 1981 and return to the arena where they beat the United States in the first round in March.
“The atmosphere when we played in the first round here was phenomenal,” said Murray. “And I think this time it will be even better.”
The winners of the tie face either Belgium or Argentina in the final from Nov. 27-29.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar