Tennis: GB Davis Cup captain not surprised by Andy Murray snub
GREAT Britain Davis Cup captain Leon Smith admits he always doubted Andy Murray would be available for next month’s match against Belgium.
It was confirmed on Tuesday the world No 4 would not be part of the side for the Europe/Africa Zone Group I clash at Glasgow’s Braehead Arena, Murray deciding to stay in America to train with coach Ivan Lendl ahead of the clay-court season.
The 24-year-old, who is currently competing in the Miami Masters, has always been wary of the potential for injury when changing surfaces, and a Davis Cup tie on indoor hard courts simply comes at the wrong time.
Smith, who is also the Lawn Tennis Association’s head of men’s and women’s tennis, told Press Association Sport: “I think it was always unlikely that he would play in terms of how he planned his year.
“It’s a jam-packed schedule and we respect what he’s trying to do. His coach lives relatively close and they can practise on the clay out there. That has to be the main focal point.
“Andy and I agreed that the most important thing in Davis Cup this year is that we stayed in this division and he’s always said it’s good that other players have the opportunity to step up.”
Murray’s absence for a second successive tie means James Ward and Dan Evans have again taken the two singles spots, with Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins playing the doubles rubber over Easter weekend.
With Belgium’s top singles players Olivier Rochus and Steve Darcis both ranked in the top 70, the visitors will go into the match, which offers the winners a shot at the World Group, as heavy favourites given Ward is 162nd and Evans 291st.
Indeed, all four of Belgium’s team – Ruben Bemelmans and David Goffin make up the side – are ranked higher than any British player except Murray, and Smith has always been keen to stress Davis Cup progress does not mask the long road ahead.
The two Scots met up in the US this month and Smith said: “We had some honest conversations about Davis Cup and other things. It was good to hear how he feels about things.
“We are in a good place. He does want to play, he really likes his team-mates and playing in front of his home fans. It was a difficult decision for him but he’s got to do what’s best for him.
“If he plays we are favourites, but at the same time that wouldn’t change the fact that we’ve got a lot of work to do in terms of improving the depth. If Belgium can produce these players then why can’t we?”
Meanwhile, in yesterday’s early action at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, Venus Williams’ comeback from illness ended with a 6-4, 6-1 defeat to Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarter-finals.
For Williams, whose sister Serena was eliminated by Caroline Wozniacki on Tuesday, the defeat marked the end of her first singles tournament since last year’s US Open when she revealed she had been diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome. The auto-immune disease causes fatigue and joint soreness and, after doing well to reach the last eight by beating Ana Ivanovic, Williams looked tired in the latter stages of the 80-minute match
World No 4 Radwanska enjoyed a 74 per cent first serve percentage while Williams, who entered the tournament as a wildcard, paid the price for 33 unforced errors.
The Pole, who won in Dubai in February, will face either Belarusian world No 1 Victoria Azarenka or France’s Marion Bartoli who were due on court later.
Kim Clijsters has a torn hip muscle and will have to recover for four weeks before making a return in Madrid in May.
A statement from her management company yesterday said that she had been troubled with hip pains over the weekend in Miami, where she lost to Belgian compatriot Yanina Wickmayer in straight sets.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 21 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: North west