Tag Archives: murray

Great Britain to play Croatia away in Davis Cup World Group play-off

Great Britain face away trip to Croatia in Davis Cup play-off… and Murray will play!

By
Stuart Fraser

PUBLISHED:

10:16 GMT, 10 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

11:05 GMT, 10 April 2013

Great Britain have been drawn away to Croatia in September's Davis Cup World Group play-offs.

Leon Smith's team staged a stunning comeback to beat Russia 3-2 on Sunday in Coventry and earn a chance to gain promotion to the elite 16-team World Group for the first time since 2008.

Heroes: Britain beat Russia to clinch a place in September's World Group play-offs

Heroes: Britain beat Russia to clinch a place in September's World Group play-offs

World No 2 Andy Murray has already committed to play in the tie which will be held on the weekend following the conclusion of the US Open on 13-15 September.

Murray last played in September 2011 in a 5-0 win over Hungary and has opted out of each tie since, preferring to focus on his grand slam preparations.

Return: Murray (centre) has already committed to play in September's tie

Return: Murray (centre) has already committed to play in September's tie

James Ward and Dan Evans, the heroes
on Sunday as they won both their matches to clinch the win over Russia,
will likely battle it out for the second singles spot.

Croatia's team is likely to include world No 11 Marin Cilic, who Murray beat on his way to winning the Sony Open in Miami last month, and Ivan Dodig, ranked No 54.

The hosts have until April 30 to choose a venue and surface for the tie.

Leader: World No 11 Cilic will likely lead Croatia's team against Great Britain

Leader: World No 11 Cilic will likely lead Croatia's team against Great Britain

It will be Britain's first tie away from home since Smith, Murray's former coach, took over as captain from John Lloyd in 2010.

Smith has won six of his seven ties in charge and should be confident of promotion to the World Group, having avoided Spain and Switzerland in the draw.

Coach: Smith (left) was Murray's (right) coach when the world No 2 was in his teenage years

Coach: Smith (left) was Murray's (right) coach when the world No 2 was in his teenage years

Britain last played Croatia in the World Group play-offs in September 2007, winning 4-1 at Wimbledon.

Murray beat Cilic in five sets in the opening match, before Tim Henman – in his last match before retirement – clinched the tie by teaming up with Murray's brother Jamie in the doubles to beat Cilic and Lovro Zovko.

Handshakes: Cilic (right) played against Britain in 2007 in what was Tim Henman's (left) last match

Handshakes: Cilic (right) played against Britain in 2007 in what was Tim Henman's (left) last match

Crystal Palace 0 Barnsley 0: Match Report

Crystal Palace 0 Barnsley 0: Eagles stumble again, while Tykes wear home side's shirts

PUBLISHED:

17:05 GMT, 6 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

11:02 GMT, 7 April 2013

Crystal Palace continue to stumble in their pursuit of promotion from the npower Championship as they were held to a goalless draw against relegation-threatened Barnsley at Selhurst Park.

The away side, who had to wear Palace's change strip because referee Keith Stroud felt the kits clashed, saw a dogged display rewarded with an important point in their attempts to avoid the drop but never looked like stealing victory as Palace dominated a one-sided encounter.

Glenn Murray and substitute Aaron Wilbraham both missed good opportunities as Ian Holloway's men failed to score for a fourth consecutive game meaning their play-off place is not yet guaranteed.

Who's who Barnsley are forced to wear Palace's away strip (yellow) as the referee felt the kits clashed

Who's who Barnsley are forced to wear Palace's away strip (yellow) as the referee felt the kits clashed

MATCH FACTS

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Ward, Ramage, Delaney, Parr, Zaha, Jedinak, Williams, Bolasie (Dobbie 77), Moritz (Phillips 64), Murray (Wilbraham 80).

Subs Not Used: Price, Richards, Marrow, Gabbidon.

Booked: Jedinak, Williams.

Barnsley: Steele, Hassell, Wiseman, Foster, Kennedy, Perkins, Mellis (Cywka 90), Etuhu (O'Brien 62), Dawson, O'Grady, Scotland (Dagnall 68).

Subs Not Used: Alnwick, Harewood, Jones, Rose.

Booked: Dawson, Hassell, Steele, Perkins, O'Brien.

Att: 21,281

Ref: Keith Stroud (Hampshire).

The latest Championship table, results and fixtures

On the back of three consecutive league defeats, Holloway made three changes to his starting line-up with Jonathan Williams and Andre Moritz coming in for Stephen Dobbie and Kagisho Dikgacoi, who was ruled out through injury.

Right-back Joel Ward made his first start since December at Ashley Richards' expense but it was the visitors, who were without injured defender Martin Cranie, who started brightest.

Jason Scotland tried his luck with two long-range shots inside the opening three minutes as David Flitcroft's men, wearing Palace's away kit due to a colour clash, began in confident mood.

The Tykes had won three of their past four games ahead of their trip but soon found themselves on the back foot as the hosts began to dictate, Wilfried Zaha's 13th-minute header an early warning signal.

Only goalkeeper Luke Steele's acrobatics denied Brazilian midfielder Moritz's curling free-kick three minutes later before Murray was presented with the clearest opening of the first half.

Frustrated: Wilfried Zaha (right) fails to unlock the Barnsley defence

Frustrated: Wilfried Zaha (right) fails to unlock the Barnsley defence

Faltering: Palace are now without a win in five

Faltering: Palace are now without a win in five

CHAMPIONSHIP – AS IT STANDS

TABLE

Zaha slid in the division's leading goal scorer but Steele stood tall to keep out Murray's clipped effort after 30 minutes.

Yannick Bolasie tested the former
Manchester United youngster once more eight minutes later with a precise
side-footed effort but Flitcroft's side resolutely held on to their
clean sheet going into the interval.

Another Moritz free-kick brought Steele into action in the 53rd minute as the Eagles continued to threaten in front of their biggest home attendance of the season.

Zaha saw his low cross cut out as he tried to pick out Moritz 10 minutes later while Murray failed to head the subsequent corner on target.

Dobbie and Wilbraham then came off the bench as the hosts began to lose momentum and the pair almost engineered a breakthrough with Wilbraham shooting just wide from the edge of the area following Dobbie's through-ball with just nine minutes remaining.

Wilbraham went even closer to clinching three points four minutes later when Jonathan Parr delivered an inviting cross but the former MK Dons striker saw his header flash past the right-hand post.

A perfect cross from Zaha gave Wilbraham a third opportunity to break the deadlock moments later but the final chance of a frustrating game for the home side was blazed over the bar.

PALACE'S REMAINING FIXTURES

Ipswich (a), 16 April

Leicester (h), 20 April

Blackburn (a), 27 April

Millwall (a), 30 April

Peterborough (h), 4 May

BARNSLEY'S REMAINING FIXTURES

Cardiff (a), 9 April

Charlton (h), 13 April

Derby (h), 16 April

Nottingham Forest (a), 20 April

Hull (h), 27 April

Huddersfield (a), 4 May

Great Britain v Russia – Davis Cup: Dan Evans and James Ward both lose singles matches in five sets

Britain's Davis Cup hopes in tatters after two five-set defeats… and rebel Evans admits he doesn't try hard enough

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

18:17 GMT, 5 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

23:47 GMT, 5 April 2013

Great Britain's Davis Cup hopes are close to being extinguished for another year after two epic near-misses against Russia on Friday and a disarming admission from No 2 player Dan Evans.

Having come so close to producing another heroic performance for GB, the 22 year-old did not hold back on why his ranking remains so stubbornly low, conceding that he simply does not put enough effort into his tennis.

He played far above his world ranking of 325 to push world number 67 Dmitri Tursunov desperately close before succumbing 6-4 6-7 6-4 5-7 6-4 in just under four hours, and later was blunt about his stalling career.

Dejection: Great Britain's Dan Evans lost in five sets to Dmitry Tursunov

Dejection: Great Britain's Dan Evans lost in five sets to Dmitry Tursunov

Marathon: Russian Tursunov prevailed in just under four hours in Coventry

Marathon: Russian Tursunov prevailed in just under four hours in Coventry

'It's because I don't train hard
enough and don't work hard enough day in and day out. I know that's the
reason. I'm obviously pretty bad at my job,' he said, amid various moans
about the costs associated with playing the tour, and an admission that
he gets 'distracted' at more obscure events.

'There are other things in life. I'm from a pretty working class background and I just go out. It's nobody else's fault.'

His defeat was compounded by James
Ward going down 4-6 4-6 7-5 6-3 8-6 to world No 80 Evgeny Donskoy. Both
matches were far closer than rankings predicted but ultimately only a
win in Saturday's doubles will keep Euro/Africa Zone tie at Coventry's
Ricoh Arena alive.

Try harder: Evans, who was called up to the squad at late notice, admits he doesn't work hard enough

Try harder: Evans, who was called up to the squad at late notice, admits he doesn't work hard enough

In the absence of Andy Murray, British
captain Leon Smith originally picked national No 3 Jamie Baker for this
tie, only to dump him on Wednesday evening for the errant 22 year-old
Evans, source of so much frustration for a variety of British coaches
over the years.

Yet when Evans gets in front of a
crowd and, crucially, has the guidance of Smith at every changeover, he
is transformed into someone in the tradition of Tim Henman, an elegant
all-court player with wonderful touch at the net. You hope one day he
will get his kicks from winning.

While some in the British game felt
that picking Evans, who has been stuck in a constant revolving door in
and out of official LTA training programmes for years due to his
questionable commitment, sent the wrong messages out to other players it
was clear why Smith took the gamble – and it nearly paid off.

Blown: James Ward let a two-set lead slip in his defeat to Evgeny Donskoy

Blown: James Ward let a two-set lead slip in his defeat to Evgeny Donskoy

Blown: James Ward let a two-set lead slip in his defeat to Evgeny Donskoy

Big-serving Tursunov won the first
set with relative ease but Evans took the next 7-5 in the tie-break and
levelled for 2-2 when he snuck in a late break.

Ultimately his lack of a single big
shot to gain cheap points hurt him, as did a tendency to throw in
untimely double faults. An anxious Tursunov finally asserted his class
to serve it out once he had made the key break for 4-2 in the decider.

Against the highly-rated but initially
nervous Donskoy, world No 214 Ward led 2-0 in the third set but could
not sustain his early level of serving and consistent depth, losing
after being broken at 6-6 in the decider.

Joy: Russia celebrate a perfect first day as they took a 2-0 lead

Joy: Russia celebrate a perfect first day as they took a 2-0 lead

Andy Murray beats Grigor Dimitrov at Miami Masters

Murray survives early scare to see off 'Baby Fed' in straight sets and reach last eight

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

21:41 GMT, 25 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

08:00 GMT, 26 March 2013

Andy Murray was given another look at the extravagant potential of Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov but still managed to surpress him to reach the last eight of the Sony Open in Miami.

Seeking to go one better than his runner-up berth last year at the same tournament, Murray was pushed all the way by the player who rejoices in the nickname of Baby Fed or Primetime before winning out 7-6, 6-3 in an hour and 53 minutes.

The British No 1 needed to come back from 5-2 down in the first set and was constantly rocked by the fluent shotmaking of the 21 year-old world No 32, who has long been tipped as a future Grand Slam champion.

At full stretch: Andy Murray is through to the fourth round of the Miami Masters after winning 7-6, 6-3

At full stretch: Andy Murray is through to the fourth round of the Miami Masters after winning 7-6, 6-3

Kim Sears

Andy Murray

In the shade: Kim Sears watches on as partner Murray sees off Dimitrov in straight sets

Afterwards Murray
told www.atptour.com: 'It was obviously way cooler [with] much slower conditions. The ball wasn't going as quick. I was leaving the
ball a bit short.

'Once I started to improve my depth a bit, I made it tough for him and he started to make more mistakes after that.'

Probably the most gifted of an
emerging group that also features the likes of Milos Raonic and Bernard
Tomic, Dimitrov showcased his full array of strokes before losing out to
the superior consistency and toughness of the US Open champion.

With a flowing backhand to die for
the younger player's talent has never been in question, but he remains
notoriously nervous when it comes to the crunch moments, and that
tendency was to return to haunt him when he had the first set in his
grasp.

Grigor Dimitrov

Andy Murray

Outclassed: Grigor Dimitrov (left) was not match for Murray in their third-round clash

Less than two weeks ago he had the
opportunity to serve out the first set against Novak Djokovic in Indian
Wells but managed to send down four double faults in the attempt.

This time he had Murray on the ropes
at 5-3, 30-30 and the contributed three of the same thing – and the 25
year-old Scot rarely spurns such charity.

Dimitrov had gone 3-1 up, then been broken back, and then broken again to take advantage of an edgy start from Murray.

Baby Fed: Dimitrov's style has been compared to Roger Federer and he is said to be dating Maria Sharapova

Baby Fed: Dimitrov's style has been compared to Roger Federer and he is said to be dating Maria Sharapova

Grigor Dimitrov

Maria Sharapova

But when it came to the tiebreak the
world No 3 made him play one ball too many when it really counted and
he ran out a 7-3 loser.

There have been times when he has
capitulated in the second set against more experienced players but he
kept Murray on his toes, and the British No 1 often needed to be at his
best to cope.

Reunited this week with coach Ivan
Lendl, Murray requires a good performance in what is his second home in
the absence of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to properly regain his
momentum post-Australian Open.

If he wins the event he is guaranteed to over take the former as world No 2. He next plays Italian number one Andreas Seppi.

Silver service: The British No 1 arrives in his new Aston Martin prior to today's third-round match

Silver service: The British No 1 arrives in his new Aston Martin prior to today's third-round match

Silver service: The British No 1 arrives in his new Aston Martin prior to today's third-round match

Andy Murray beats Carlos Berlocq in straight sets to march into Indian Wells quarter-finals

Murray silences Berlocq with straight sets victory to march into Indian Wells last eight

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

02:22 GMT, 14 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

06:07 GMT, 14 March 2013

Andy Murray fought out a niggly battle that did little to enhance relations between Britain and Argentina as he struggled to overcome the grunting Carlos Berlocq to reach the last eight of the BNP Paribas Open.

Amid accusations of deliberate stalling across the net and complaints to the umpire about the South American’s varied volume of lingering growl Murray eventually got the better of him in an ill-tempered affair, winning through 7-6 6-4 in an hour and 55 minutes.

He now meets another Argentinian in his fellow US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro, and will be relieved that he does not have to listen the ghastly soundtrack of Berlocq, which he described as ‘the worst I’ve ever heard on the men’s tour.'

On a run: Andy Murray sailed past Carlos Berlocq and into the quarter-finals

On a run: Andy Murray sailed past Carlos Berlocq and into the quarter-finals

Murray was particularly aggrieved that he was being warned about time violations between points while having to put up baritone groan of his muscular opponent.

'I’ve never experienced before when I’ve had to speak to an umpire about it,' he said. 'I’ve never found it to be that off-putting. But if it’s going to be suggested that I’m using gamesmanship by taking too long between points then you can’t be making noises like that on court. He was still making a noise when I was hitting the ball, it’s annoying. There was silence and then it was extremely loud, that’s off-putting.'

You wish other players would speak up against the habit, which is more associated with the women’s tour, but they rarely do.

As Murray admitted afterwards, he will have to play better if he is to progress further. 'It wasn’t the prettiest match and I’ve got to improve on it, but conditions were quite tough,' he said. 'When we went out there it was bright and in the 90s and the ball was bouncing very high, but as it got cooler and the sun went down my timing got better.'

Hot streak: Murray is enjoying his best run of results at Indian Wells

Hot streak: Murray is enjoying his best run of results at Indian Wells

Certainly you would not have expected Berlocq – happiest on clay, ranked 85 and never having been past the second round of a Grand Slam – to mount such a challenge, but he went for broke and hit some glorious winners to discomfort his opponent.

Having had six weeks off after the Australian Open Murray is yet to look entirely into his rhtythm at this tournament, where he has struggled before, although the fact is he is through to the last eight for the loss of just one set.

The only thing that will linger about the match was the bad blood that developed between the players from early in the first set onwards. Murray usually only gets cross with himself and rarely falls out with opponents, but he did not enjoy the way the barrel-chested Berlocq played the game and did not hide his feelings.

Having started in awkward conditions of glaring sun and mixed shadows across the court, he complained to his box – that contained his regular celebrity supporter Kevin Spacey – that 'I can’t see the ball!' as breaks were exchanged.

Outgunned: Argentine Berlocq was swatted aside by the world No 3

Outgunned: Argentine Berlocq was swatted aside by the world No 3

In the tenth game the two players swapped accusations that they were deliberately stalling, umpire Steve Ulrich taking Murray’s side. Playing very conservatively he was broken, but broke back in the next game and gave a huge ‘C’mon!’ and fist pump in Berlocq’s face at the net.

The tiebreak was a tense affair, settled at 6-4 when a scrambling Murray sent up a high lob and the Argentinian blasted an overhead long.

By now the 25 year-old Scot was getting very frustrated with Berlocq’s grunt/growl, as offensive as anything you hear in the women’s game. He complained early in the second set to Ulrich, saying it was ‘outrageous.’

Murray, whose forehand never fired and whose serve was more tentative than usual, could not hold on to an early break as Berlocq continued to hit out with massive, heavily spun groundstrokes.

Finally he got ahead with a backhand lob to break for 4-3, and from there just about managed to serve it out, although not before he had to save another break point at 5-3.

No, it was not pretty, but it got the job done.

Roger Federer says he does not lack ambition despite taking two months off

Don't view my break as a lack of ambition… I still want to win more titles, warns Federer

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

18:46 GMT, 12 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

18:46 GMT, 12 March 2013

Roger Federer’s back is creaking again and soon he will be taking nearly two months off, but the Wimbledon champion insists that neither of these factors should be seen as his ambition waning for more titles.

Once he is finished at this week’s $10 million BNP Paribas Open Federer will retreat until May for practice and family time, and byhis return he is unlikely to still be world No 2.

Andy Murray, who earlier this morning was due to face Taipei’s Yen Hsun Lu in the third round, is closing and could usurp the great Swiss if he were to significantly outperform him at this first Masters event of the season.

Fully focused: Roger Federer says he does not lack ambition

Fully focused: Roger Federer says he does not lack ambition

Federer concedes that the forthcoming break will not help his ranking in the short term but believes it will make him more dangerous for the summer’s three Grand Slams: 'If you play well then you can manage your schedule, but with the rankings you do need to win the tournaments you actually play. I know when I’m playing well I always have a shot.

'My schedule is not in set in stone, maybe if I lost early here or won the tournament it could change my mindset but I doubt it because what I want to do is practise hard. I’m really eager for that because I haven’t been able to practise as much as I would have liked in the last two years.

Taking a break: Federer is set to take two months off

Taking a break: Federer is set to take two months off

'This year the priority is a big build up then coming back really strong for the Masters events in Madrid and Rome before Roland Garros.'

Federer’s back suffered one of its periodic tweaks during his third round victory over Ivan Dodig, but he feels he will be fine to face compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka today.

Victory in that could give him a much-anticipated clash with Rafael Nadal, but first the Spaniard has to overcome the season’s most improved player in Ernests Gulbis.

The colourful Latvian is very talented but has revelled in being an international playboy for the past three years. Now pledging to at least cut down on the drinking, smoking and carousing he has got himself fitter, and the result has been a 12-match winning streak.

Wilfried Zaha swears at Leeds fans over Manchester United abuse

Zaha gives Leeds fans the middle finger after abuse over transfer to Man United

By
Rik Sharma

PUBLISHED:

21:55 GMT, 9 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

10:31 GMT, 10 March 2013

Manchester United's new signing Wilfried Zaha was spotted swearing at Leeds United fans on Saturday.

The Crystal Palace attacker was being berated by Leeds supporters over his transfer to their bitter rivals.

He responded by grinning and sticking up his middle finger at them.

Response: Wilfried Zaha had a message for the Leeds fans giving him stick

Response: Wilfried Zaha had a message for the Leeds fans giving him stick

Top form: Zaha again showed the star quality yesterday that earned a move to Manchester United this summer

Top form: Zaha again showed the star quality yesterday that earned a move to Manchester United this summer

Red Devils fans took to Twitter to praise their new signing, saying he was 'getting into practice'.

Whether Sir Alex Ferguson would approve of this gesture is another matter entirely.

Eyes on the ball: Zaha used his head to get past Leeds player Lee Peltier

Eyes on the ball: Zaha used his head to get past Leeds player Lee Peltier

Wing wizard: Zaha cuts inside to beat Leeds United's Stephen Warnock

Wing wizard: Zaha cuts inside to beat Leeds United's Stephen Warnock

Palace fought hard and earned a 2-2 draw with Leeds thanks to a late goal by Glenn Murray.

The Eagles frontman hit a brace – and so did Leeds' Steve Morison – as they shared the spoils at Selhurst Park.

John Murray wanted by BT Sport

BT want Murray to follow Humphrey as new boys plan second raid on BBC for Premier League coverage

By
Charles Sale

PUBLISHED:

14:19 GMT, 29 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

17:55 GMT, 29 January 2013

BT Sport are understood to be looking to the BBC for their main commentator after persuading Jake Humphrey to front their Barclays Premier League coverage.

Humphrey was the BBC's Formula One host last season but has signed a four-year deal with the new venture.

Radio 5 Live’s excellent John
Murray, who has the lead microphone role for the main radio football
match on the flagship Saturday programme, could be set to join Humphrey.

New recruit: Jake Humphrey has already signed his deal with BT

New recruit: Jake Humphrey has already signed his deal with BT

Let us know what you think….

Who
should BT Sport bring in for their Premier League coverage Tell us by
clicking on the comments section at the bottom of this article

Murray is high on the wishlist of BT,
who last summer won the rights to show 38 live games a season for three
years, including 18 first-choice matches.

They are paying 738million over three seasons while Sky are paying 2.28billion for their rights.

One man set to stay at the BBC is Gary Lineker. The Match of the Day presenter is expected to sign a new contract.

Microphone man: BBC Radio Five Live's John Murray is also wanted by BT Sport

Microphone man: BBC Radio Five Live's John Murray is also wanted by BT Sport

But it was announced last week that Colin Murray is to be dropped as the Match of the Day 2 frontman next season.

Murray, who has anchored the Sunday
highlights show for two years since Adrian Chiles moved to ITV, is to be
replaced by rising BBC star Mark Chapman.

SIX NATIONS 2013: Brian O"Driscoll returns for Wales v Ireland

O'Driscoll, Kearney, Best and O'Brien all return to take on Wales in Ireland opener

By
Duncan Bech, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

14:20 GMT, 29 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

15:12 GMT, 29 January 2013

Ireland have restored Brian O'Driscoll, Rob Kearney, Rory Best and Sean O'Brien to their XV for Saturday's RBS 6 Nations opener against Grand Slam champions Wales in Cardiff.

The experienced and influential quartet missed the entire autumn schedule through injury but return at outside centre, full back, openside and hooker respectively.

For the first time since succeeding Keith Wood as captain in 2004, O'Driscoll is relieved of the leadership duties following coach Declan Kidney's decision to appoint No 8 Jamie Heaslip skipper.

It's good to be back: Brian O'Driscoll in Ireland training at Carton House in Co. Kildare on Tuesday

It's good to be back: Brian O'Driscoll in Ireland training at Carton House in Co. Kildare on Tuesday

The 34-year-old resumes his centre partnership alongside Leinster team-mate Gordon D'Arcy for a record 48th time with Jonathan Sexton and Conor Murray selected at half-back.

Kearney forms an exciting back three that features Craig Gilroy and Simon Zebo on the wings after the inexperienced duo impressed throughout the autumn.

'It was a tight call because there's so much competition. Fergus McFadden and Keith Earls have been playing well, so it's testament to the way Craig and Simon have been playing that they're selected,' Kidney said.

Show of strength: Rob Kearney will also be back in Ireland colours at the Millennium Stadium

Show of strength: Rob Kearney will also be back in Ireland colours at the Millennium Stadium

Ireland team to face Wales at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, on Saturday, (KO 1:30pm)

R Kearney (Leinster); C Gilroy (Ulster), B O'Driscoll (Leinster), G D'Arcy (Leinster), S Zebo (Munster); J Sexton (Leinster), C Murray (Munster); C Healy (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), M Ross (Leinster), M McCarthy (Connacht), D Ryan (Munster), P O'Mahony (Munster), S O'Brien (Leinster), J Heaslip (Leinster, capt).

Replacements: S Cronin (Leinster),
D Kilcoyne (Munster), D Fitzpatrick (Ulster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), C Henry (Ulster),
E Reddan (Leinster), R O'Gara (Munster),
K Earls (Munster).

In total there are four changes in
personnel to the side that thumped Argentina 46-24 in the climax to a
mixed November, among them Chris Henry's demotion to the bench.

O'Brien was assured of a spot in the back row once he had returned to fitness, but Henry is unfortunate to have made way with Peter O'Mahony preferred at blindside.

'We felt that in terms of a mix in the back row this was the best combination, but there was certainly plenty to talk about following Chris' performances in the autumn,' Kidney said.

Ireland, the bookmakers' third favourites to win the Six Nations, have lost their last three matches to Wales, including a 23-21 loss on the opening day of the championship last year.

But while the injury-hit Welsh enter the tournament as champions, they have endured seven successive defeats including a whitewash during a troubled autumn.

Andy Murray v Novak Djokovic Australian Open final LIVE

LIVE: Andy Murray v Novak Djokovic – follow all the action from the Australian Open final

By
Martin Domin

PUBLISHED:

00:01 GMT, 27 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

08:18 GMT, 27 January 2013

Andy Murray is bidding to win his second consecutive Grand Slam title when he takes on Novak Djokovic in Melbourne on Sunday.

The two have enjoyed some epic battles, not least in the US Open final last September and the Serbian world No 1 is aiming for a hat-trick of Australian Open titles.

Follow all the action with Sportsmail's unrivalled coverage and send your emails to [email protected]

8.15am: So, what can we expect today Some huge hitting no doubt and hopefully a five-hour, five-set epic. Djokovic has the upper hand over Murray, winning 10 of their 17 meetings as well as both matches at the Australian Open. But the Scot's win at the US Open was a defining moment for him, and for British tennis, and with that monkey off his back, who knows how far he can go

And interestingly, Murray has won four of the seven finals the pair have contested…

8.05am: Seems like just yesterday that I was here looking forward to the US Open final between the same two protagonists. Difficult to see anything other than another classic clash between the two best players in the world right now.

And as John Lloyd said this morning, if Andy Murray wins, he can rightfully call himself the best on the planet.

8am: Welcome to Sportsmail's coverage of the Australian Open final in Melbourne.

Andy Murray