Andy Murray issues rankings challenge to Davis Cup teammates

Andy Murray has challenged his Davis Cup-winning teammates to use the success as a springboard to climb the rankings in 2016.

James Ward and Kyle Edmund were part of the four-man line-up that defeated Belgium in the final in Ghent at the weekend, while Dan Evans also received a trophy having played in the semi-final against Australia.

Ward was the only man other than Andy and Jamie Murray to win a rubber during this year's remarkable Davis Cup run when he beat America's John Isner in the first round in March.

The 28-year-old finally cracked the top 100 for the first time following his run to the third round at Wimbledon but has since slipped back to 156 in the rankings.

Edmund sits two places outside the top 100 and next year will be a significant one for him, while Evans has climbed back from a low of 772 in May to 185.

Yet all are part of a team now ranked No.1 in the world, and Murray believes the trio can do better.

He said: "It's amazing, and we deserve to be ranked No.1 in the world because the last five years, we've only lost two matches.

"James and Kyle, and Dan as well, the last few weeks they've all won Challenger events. I think everyone believes that all of them can go higher.

"With this coming up, there was a huge motivation for everybody to go out and perform and prepare really well for this tie, and they did that. It's now about taking that form and that level into next year."

Edmund intends to do just that, having been inspired by his first experience of Davis Cup tennis.

The 20-year-old said: "It's just the whole experience, being involved. Being in such an intense environment, you're never going to experience that on the tour so you take that and use it to kick on."

Britain begin the defence of their title against Japan in Birmingham in March, and captain Leon Smith sees no reason for 2015 to be a one-off.

He said: "We should be a team that's very confident, very proud and one that will continue to stick together, because that's the values that we've had right from the start.

"We'll really enjoy meeting back up again in March for the next tie. We'll obviously see each other a lot before then but it'll be a nice feeling going into March as defending champions."

Andy Murray is intending to play in that tie, provided all goes as planned with the birth of his first child, but, should Britain win, he is likely to miss the quarter-finals in July.

The tie, which could pit Britain against Novak Djokovic's Serbia, is the week after Wimbledon and only two weeks before a packed American hard-court season that includes the Rio Olympics, where Murray will defend his singles title.

The world No.2 believes the International Tennis Federation, which organises the Davis Cup, and the ATP should do more to ensure scheduling problems can be resolved.

Britain's chance at Davis Cup glory would surely not have been possible had the likes of Roger Federer, Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka played in all the ties in 2015.

"I do think the format does work very well," said Murray. "The atmosphere [in Ghent] was amazing. We played four ties this year and every one of them was sold out and the atmosphere was really good. I haven't played in any other atmospheres like that throughout the year.

"It's just the timing of the competition. It would be great if the ATP and the ITF could actually really work together to try to work something out because I think the Davis Cup is a great way of promoting tennis and growing the game and reaching out to different people.

"I do think if they work together a little bit harder they could make it even better."