Tennis: Japan confident Nishikori can upset Murray

Japan's Kei Nishikori celebrating after winning his Davis Cup match against Britain's Daniel Evans on March 4, 2016.
Japan's Kei Nishikori celebrating after winning his Davis Cup match against Britain's Daniel Evans on March 4, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

BIRMINGHAM (AFP) - Japan's Davis Cup captain Minoru Ueda believes Kei Nishikori can stun Andy Murray and help take his team into the Davis Cup quarter-finals on Sunday.

Defending champions Britain are 2-1 ahead in the best-of-five rubbers first round tie after Andy Murray teamed up with brother Jamie for a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 win over Yoshihito Nishioka and Yasutaka Uchiyama in Saturday's doubles.

World No. 2 Andy Murray and Nishikori, ranked six, both won their opening singles on Friday and will clash in the first of the reverse singles on Sunday.

Murray has a 5-1 career record over Nishikori but Ueda believes that will only build the pressure on the home player.

"I have a feeling that Kei and Andy's match is everything. Although Andy is higher in the rankings, I feel the indoor surface gives Kei more of a chance," said the Japan captain.

Nishikori is the highest-ranked player Murray has ever faced in the Davis Cup and the Japanese star's only win over the Briton came on a similar indoor surface at the World Tour Finals in London in 2014.

"I played well against him last year. I played him a couple of times. He's ranked six in the world, so he's one of the best," said Murray.

"It's obviously going to be extremely tough, but I'm playing well and hopefully I can play a good one (on Sunday) and try and seal the win." Murray took a month-long break from competitive tennis prior to the tie to spend time with new baby daughter Sophia and had not been sure how he would perform.

"For me, it probably helps because I haven't played for five weeks," said the former US Open and Wimbledon champion.

"Kei has played in Memphis and Acapulco, so he's played a bunch the last few weeks." Should Nishikori pull off the upset, the tie would come down to a fifth rubber between Dan Evans and Taro Daniel.

Evans is ranked 70 places lower at 157 but has won two of their previous three matches, including coming from 5-0 down in the final set to win at a Challenger event in Vancouver last summer.

Captain Leon Smith said: "The good thing is that his game is in a good place and it's always good when you have two cracks at it.

"I think lots of people look at Andy versus Kei but there's another match if required, and that's always a good position to be in."