Davis Cup Final Preview: Saturday's Pivotal Doubles Rubber

Davis Cup Final Preview: Saturday's Pivotal Doubles Rubber

Great Britain and Belgium are tied 1-1 after the opening day of singles rubbers. That leaves Saturday's doubles rubber as a huge momentum swinger with the highlight singles rubber featuring Andy Murray and David Goffin on tap for Sunday.

Chris Spiech

Andy Murray helped level the Davis Cup Final at 1-1 on Friday with a straight sets win over Ruben Bemelmans. Murray will team with brother Jamie for Saturday's key doubles rubber against Belgium who may make a change to their doubles pairing which for now is still Steve Darcis pairing with Kimmer Coppjeans.

Belgium Likely To Substitute For Coppejans

With the Davis Cup Final at its crucial point with both Great Britain and Belgium winning singles rubbers on the opening day, it is likely Belgium will tweak their doubles tandem for Saturday's pivotal third rubber. Great Britain is set with Andy and Jamie Murray ready and rearing to go. When the initial rosters were announced, Steve Darcis and Kimmer Coppejans were named the doubles starters for Belgium. Belgian captain Johan Van Herck says all options will be open as to who will play on Saturday for Belgium as he plays a little cat and mouse with Great Britain.

Coppejans is the rumored odd man out with Darcis expected to remain in the doubles picture with Bemelmans the likely substitute for Coppejans. Bemelmans paired with Darcis in the semifinals against Argentina. The Argentine duo of Carlos Berlocq and Leonardo Mayer won a five set war against the Belgian duo that ended in a fifth set tie breaker.

Murrays Seek To Continue Dominance

The brothers Murray have teamed up twice during Great Britain's run to the final with positive results. In the quarterfinals against France, Andy and Jamie defeated Nicolas Mahut and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in four sets to set up Andy to secure the tie in the first Sunday singles rubber. In the semifinals, the Murrays won a tremendous five set battle against Australians Sam Groth and Lleyton Hewitt 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-4. That formula again put Andy Murray into position to secure the win in the fourth rubber with a straight sets drubbing of Bernard Tomic. The Murrays are 3-0 all-time as a duo in Davis Cup play and Andy Murray has won his last five doubles matches in Davis Cup play overall.

As good as the Murrays have been, Andy Murray says a loss on Saturday for either team won't be a tie killer, saying "It's an important match, obviously. Every point is. But I don't think for either team, if you lose it, that the tie is over because I think both teams are capable of winning all of the points here."

Importance of Doubles Rubber Still Big

While the players and captains both downplay how a loss could adversely affect their respective countries, recent history says otherwise. In the last three years with the opening singles rubbers split, the winner of the doubles rubber went on to win the Davis Cup final. Switzerland did it last year behind Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka. The Czech Republic did it in both 2012 and 2013, but did need a fifth rubber in both cases. Serbia is the last country to win the Davis Cup title after being down 2-1 after the doubles rubber. They did that behind Novak Djokovic and Viktor Troicki in 2010.

Saturday 's Prediction

The raucous crowd in Ghent will certainly help push the Belgians regardless of who they put out on the court on Saturday. The Murrays have the experience together in these tough spots, but this will be their first big road test and it comes on the biggest stage. This columnist doesn't expect it to rattle the Brits in this spot and be the ultimate factor. The Murrays are the names here, but Steve Darcis and either Ruben Bemelmans or David Goffin won't be without a realistic chance to win this match. Even though it is being treated as just another match, a loss for the Belgians puts them in a rough spot with Andy Murray scheduled to battle David Goffin in the fourth rubber on Sunday. That's a good close-out match-up for the Brits. If Belgium wants a legitimate shot to take the tie, they'll need to find a way to win this doubles rubber.

Prediction: Great Britain wins in five sets