ANDY Murray says it is “unlikely” that he will play doubles against the Bryan brothers tomorrow in Great Britain’s Davis Cup tie against the United States. Others think it remains very plausible. But no matter whether the British No 1’s remarks should be taken at face value or as a psychological ploy, the fact remains that we will only know for certain at noon tomorrow.
As things stand, Murray is due to get the first-round tie at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena under way at 1pm today with a match against the Americans’ No 2 player Donald Young. The Scot will then play John Isner in Sunday’s first match, while British No 2 James Ward will open today against Isner and play the last of the five rubbers against Young. The doubles will see Jamie Murray partner Dominic Inglot against the Bryan brothers, the world’s leading doubles partnership.
That, at least, was the draw as it was made yesterday. But captains can, and frequently do, change their choices an hour before the start of play each day, and Great Britain skipper Leon Smith is expected to think carefully about the match fitness of his players before finalising his Saturday line-up.
Speaking after the draw was made, Murray said he would be happy if called upon to partner any of his team-mates, though he acknowledged that he is far more familiar with his brother’s style of play. For their part, both Mike and Bob Bryan talked up Inglot, while accepting that the capacity crowd of 7,500 would far rather see them take on the Murrays.
“We obviously played a bunch when we were younger together,” Andy said when asked if knowing Jamie’s game well would be a help if they were playing together. “We haven’t played so much recently, but obviously it’s an advantage I know his game well and he knows mine well. I would say it’s unlikely I would play the doubles on Saturday. If it’s required, then it would be nice to play with Jamie or Dom – or Wardy. They’ve both started the year very well, they’re both here by right, Dom has had some big wins over the Bryans this year, and Jamie’s consistency over the past seven months has been very good.
“So whichever team we put out will have an opportunity of winning the match providing they play great tennis.”
Asked to confirm that ‘unlikely’ verdict, Murray added: “Yes. I would say it’s unlikely, yeah.”
The Bryans have practised with different permutations of opponents in mind, and admitted they were unsure who to expect on the other side of the net. “We don’t know who they’re going to throw at us,” said Bob, at present the clean-shaven one of the identical twins. “They’ve got a few options and we’re prepared for every option.
“I’m sure the fans want to see the Murrays versus the Bryans – the marquee match-up. Dom Inglot has the hot hand: he’s played us well in the last couple of matches, so we’re prepared for him. Biggest server out there.
“We’ll be ready. We’re here to do our job. We got here on Friday, had some good practices, we’ll be ready to go with whoever they throw out there. I’m sure we won’t know until an hour before the match.”
Mike, sporting a short beard, also praised Inglot, and perhaps tried to put some pressure on Smith by suggesting that the least-known member of the British team would be hard to omit. “He’s obviously a great player, else he wouldn’t be named in the team. Sue Barker just said his name is ‘Dom the Bomb’, so obviously he’s got one of the biggest serves in the game.
“He’s aggressive, he’s a big guy – not really lobbable. He’s all over the net. He plays with a lot of power, which is kind of the new age of doubles, the power game.
“So you’ve got to find a way to break him, which is tough. You know, if I was the coach, it would be tough to leave a guy who has a hot hand off the team. So he’s got a tough decision.”
Before he has to make that decision, of course, Smith will hope to have the comfort of a 2-0 lead from today’s rubbers. But Murray warned that Young, whom he beat in straight sets in San Diego at the same stage of last year’s tournament, is a tougher proposition this year.
“I think he’s better on this surface, for sure,” the Scot said – the match in America was on clay, whereas this tie is on a hard court. “He started this year well, played well in Australia – I saw a bit of his match against [Milos] Raonic and he played a good match.
“In the last few weeks he’s done well on the hard courts. He’s playing well just now and will be confident.”