Great Britain suffered a blow in their bid to become just the fifth nation to win consecutive titles in the Davis Cup.
Edmund and local boy Dan Evans are vying for the number two spot, while Murray will see how he feels after Friday’s match before deciding whether to play doubles with his brother, as he did in three of the rounds previous year.
The 28-year-old was the star of the show as Team GB roared to the title last year, with the Scot winning all of his matches en route to lifting the trophy in Ghent with victory over Belgium in the final.
Two of Evans’ four Davis Cup victories have been in deciding fifth rubbers and he has a winning record against his opponent in Sunday’s reverse singles, Taro Daniel, who is the world No 87.
Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray can set up a Davis Cup quarter-final blockbuster if they successfully pilot Serbia and defending champions Great Britain through the first round.
The BBC Sports Personality of the Year, who has not played for a month after the birth of his daughter, said: “I think one of the reasons I’m here this year is because I really want to try and do it again”.
Though world number six Kei Nishikori will lead the Japanese team, there is an onus on Daniel to make life as hard as possible for Murray, who could potentially be ring-rusty having not hit a ball in anger for almost five weeks.
The 21-year-old sustained the problem in practice on Wednesday and captain Leon Smith deemed him too much of a risk. “You get so much back out of it, so give as much time as you can, enjoy every minute – because, even though at the beginning it can be challenging with sleep and whatnot, you’ll miss it when it’s not there. He plays predominantly from the back of the court, sort of moves like the Spaniards, has spent a lot of time training over there, but we’ll watch a bit more tonight”. Yet his attitude contrasts with that of Murray, who will lead off this first-round match against Japan at 1pm on Friday. In that tie, Andy Murray’s will play his first competitive tennis since becoming a father and tennis fans everywhere are looking forward to Murray and Nishikori doing battle in one of the marquee matchups of the weekend. This is their 15th straight World Group appearance and they reached the semifinals past year. “It is not going to change much but I also have been playing well”. “Not that many”, a deadpan Evans said, his apparently lugubrious mood emphasised by his Brummie accent.
Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic during the Australian Open 2016 final. I’ll be nervous but excited as well.
Edmund said: “Being a tennis player you get niggles now and again”.
Dominic Inglot and Jamie Murray are due to go up against Yoshihito Nishioka and Yasutaka Uchiyamain in the doubles encounter on Saturday (March 5) before the reverse singles rubbers are held the following day. “Statistically I’ve played by far my best tennis when I’ve played for Great Britain“. Surely that means they will team up to try and win the huge cup again this season?