Dan Evans faces Kei Nishikori in the second singles rubber on day one of Great Britain's 2016 Davis Cup World Group first-round meeting with Japan at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham on Friday 4 March.
The hosts are the defending champions, having beaten Belgium 3-1 in November to claim their first title since Fred Perry and Bunny Austin led them to a pre-Second World War victory over Australia way back in 1936.
Where to watch
Both Andy Murray vs Taro Daniel and Evans' clash with Nishikori will be broadcast live on BBC Two, with the action scheduled to get under way at 13.00 GMT. Coverage is also available on BBC Radio Five Live Sports Extra.
After a late switch of nomination from British captain Leon Smith following a slight back injury sustained by Kyle Edmund, Birmingham native Evans will take to the hard court in front of a hometown crowd against the man who provided the opposition for the most impressive performance of his career. At the 2013 US Open, the right-hander stunned Nishikori in straight sets on the opening day at Flushing Meadows to advance past the first round of a grand slam for the first and only time. He also went on to topple Bernard Tomic before falling to Spaniard Tommy Robredo.
That was about as good as it has gotten for world number 157 Evans, who has won four and lost 10 of his 14 previous singles rubbers at the Davis Cup. His last involvement came in last year's semi-final clash with Australia in Glasgow, where he took Tomic to four sets before being beaten by Thanasi Kokkinakis 7-5, 6-4. The 25-year-old, who turned professional a decade ago and reached a career high of 123 in February 2014, was denied his fourth appearance at Wimbledon last summer after defeat to Yuichi Sugita in the final qualifying round but did reach the Australian Open for the very first time in January before a heavy first-round loss at the hands of Feliciano Lopez. He has never qualified for the main draw at Roland Garros for the French Open.
As for Nishikori, he bounced back efficiently from that aforementioned shock and went on to make the US Open final a year later, seeing off Milos Raonic, Stan Wawrinka and the mighty Novak Djokovic before suffering a comprehensive defeat to Marin Cilic. Currently ranked by the ATP at number six, he has reached at least the quarter-finals of every major tournament except for Wimbledon, where has has yet to progress past the fourth round. He reached the last eight at both the 2014 French Open and at the recent Australian Open, only to be denied by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Djokovic.
Japan, currently skippered by Minoru Ueda, do not boast the best Davis Cup record over their 82 years of participation. A semi-final finish on their debut in 1921 remains the nation's best performance to date, while they only returned to the World Group in 2011 after a lengthy absence. Their place in this year's edition was secured courtesy of a 3-2 win over Colombia in Bogota. With 18 wins – including 14 on hard courts – to his name and no other player currently ranked above 87, Nishikori is undoubtedly their star attraction.
Betting odds (William Hill)
- Great Britain: 2/9
- Japan: 3/1
Head to head
Evans 1-0 Nishikori. Last meeting: Evans bt Nishikori 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 at the 2013 US Open (hard).