Tennis-Murray puts holders Britain ahead in Davis Cup

LONDON, March 4 (Reuters) - Andy Murray beat Japan's Taro Daniel as Britain began defending their Davis Cup title in their World Group, first round tie in Birmingham on Friday. Playing his first match since the Australian Open final, since when his wife Kim gave birth to their first child, world number two Murray eased his way back with a 6-1 6-3 6-1 victory to put the hosts ahead in front of a packed house. Daniel, ranked 87th in the world, briefly knocked Murray out of his stride to break early in the second set but he was no match for the man who led Britain to a first title since 1936 virtually single-handed last November. "I was getting a little out of breath, but I played a good match and served well," Murray said. "I had unbelievable support today and it was great to play in front of a full house." Japan have a chance to level the World Group first round tie with Kei Nishikori, the world number six, up against local favourite Dan Evans who is 174th in the rankings. Evans did beat Nishikori in their previous encounter at the U.S. Open in 2013. (Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Janet Lawrence)