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Belgium and Britain prepare for Davis Cup showdown
The Davis Cup final between Belgium and Great Britain begins on Friday in Ghent. There have been security concerns over the staging of the final following the 13 November terrorist attacks in Paris. However authorities have given the green light for the showdown.
Britain's Davis Cup captain Leon Smith risked his reputation on Thursday by naming 20 year-old Kyle Edmund as his nation's number two singles player for the final.
The best of five match series takes place at the 13,000 seat Flanders Expo in Ghent.
Edmund will make his Davis Cup debut while the spearhead of the British challenge, Andy Murray, is aiming to become the first man in more than 30 years to win all eight of his Davis Cup singles matches in a season.
Doing so would allow the 28-year-old Scot to emulate the feats of the American John McEnroe in 1982 and the Swede Mats Wilander in 1983.
History also beckons for Edmund as Britain tries to claim its first title since 1936. He will become the sixth man in the 115-year history of the competition to make his debut in the final.
He will play the opening match against Belgium's top player David Goffin.
Murray, the world number two and the inspiration behind Britain's march into the final for the first time since 1978, will then take on Ruben Bemelmans.
Murray and his older brother Jamie are scheduled to play in Saturday's doubles against Steve Darcis and Kimmer Coppejans before the reverse singles on Sunday.
Belgium's only previous appearance in the final came 111 years ago when they lost to what was then the British Isles.
Commentators and analysts in both countrues are portraying the final as Murray v Belgium. But the former Wimbledon and US Open champion said that would be a mistake.
"I think if you look at it that way, they're actually putting a lot of pressure on their own players in the other matches, to be honest," he said. "I'm happy to take as much pressure on my shoulders as is needed. I've been in that position, I think, a lot of times in my career. I think I will be able to deal with it okay."
Edmund, who won a second-tier Challenger title on clay in Buenos Aires this month to grab the attention of his team skipper, acknowledged he is entering the cauldron.
"This is definitely going to be the biggest crowd I've played in front of. Probably the biggest occasion," the world number 100 said. "The experience I've had close to that is probably in Paris in my French Open first round when I played a French guy in front of a loud French crowd.
"But this will definitely be louder, a lot more people watching. It a new experience for me. It's something I'm going to have to learn as I go through the match. But it's a good problem and it's exciting."
The Belgium coach Johan van Herck agreed that while Belgium would start as the underdogs due to the Murray factor, having home advantage - which they have enjoyed throughout their 2015 campaign - could be a bonus.
"I think it will be huge," he said. "The two nations played all their matches at home this year. We'll have this one at home also.
"We're looking forward to getting the people involved. I think it will be important that the people get behind us when we're winning, when we're losing.
"Try to get them on the back a little bit of the Brits. We will try to get them involved as much as we can, as much as we are allowed to. It's an advantage we have to take."