Andy Murray wary of heavy workload at Davis Cup

Andy Murray, right, and Leon Smith at a Davis Cup press conference in Madrid. Picture: Clive Brunskill/Getty
Andy Murray, right, and Leon Smith at a Davis Cup press conference in Madrid. Picture: Clive Brunskill/Getty
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Andy Murray fluffed his lines yesterday but he aims to be word perfect by the time Great Britain begin their Davis Cup challenge against the 
Netherlands today.

The team held their official press conference at the Caja Magica yesterday and they had a plan: they were going to drop lines and song titles from the film Frozen into their answers. All five players had a line to use although trying to get the cold never bothered me anyway into a conversation about the importance of doubles takes some doing 
(as a result, Jamie Murray decided not to try).

Andy got the ball rolling, stating that those who wish to criticise the new format of the competition needed to let that go. Realising that that was not quite right, he tried again. He repeated his argument and concluded that the naysayers needed to let it go. At least the team thought it was funny even if the room full of grouchy journalists needed the gag explaining to them. Clearly the spirit among them is good.

The former Wimbledon champion, though, has made it clear that he does not want to play five days in a row as Britain would have to if they were to reach the final. Still in the early stages of his comeback to the singles beat after hip surgery, he did play five consecutive days to win the title in Antwerp last month but then took a 
two-week break after his wife gave birth to their son, Teddy.

Doing nothing but eating chocolate biscuits and sweets, he soon gained weight (10lb in 12 days) and, while the break from training helped his sore elbow to settle down, it did little for the rest of his conditioning. While he has got himself back into shape for the rigours of the coming few days, he is still not sure that he is up to five matches in five days.

“Playing five days in a row is going to be tough just now,” Murray said. “I did it in Antwerp and I got through that tournament quite well at the end. But it was tough. And I’ve also had a bit of a break as well, where I didn’t train and practise as much. 
So five matches in five days would be difficult for sure.

“I’ve lost a little bit of weight – not as much as I would like. But obviously getting to practise here and hopefully getting to play a few matches can also help with the last couple of kilos.

“Physically, my elbow’s been really good so that’s been positive. And then, obviously, if you’re playing matches, there’s obviously a bit of added intensity there. So how you recover from them and feel after them is slightly different to the practice. But the elbow has been good.”

Logically, today would be the day to rest Murray. The Dutch team is the weakest in their group and, with Kazakhstan to face tomorrow, the captain, Leon Smith, would surely want Murray available to face the world No 67, Mikhail Kukushkin, pictured left. Resting him on the opening day may defeat the object of the exercise somewhat – a day off later in the week would be preferable – but at least it would lighten the load a little.

But Smith was giving nothing away yesterday and will only reveal his team line-up one hour before the tie starts.

So until today, the 1,000 travelling members of Britain’s Barmy Army will not know whether they will cheering Kyle Edmund or Dan Evans as the team’s No 1 singles man or whether they will be seeing 
Murray at all.

The Scot did offer a heavy hint that the doubles pairing would be his brother, Jamie, and Neal Skupski when he announced that playing doubles as well as singles would be too much of a workload. If absolutely necessary, he would play two matches in the one day, but it would have to be in the latter stages of the competition.

“If I was asked to play, then, yeah, I would do it,” Murray said. “There’s a difference between playing a final maybe or a quarter-final. You have to think slightly differently maybe at the beginning of the event than if you’re in the final.

“But I guess we’ll see what happens when we’re out there. The length of matches is important, too. You play an hour-long match, it is very different to playing three hours and how you recover from that.

“So there are a lot of factors there, but I mean, if that’s what Leon wanted ultimately, then I’d do it.”

As ever with Murray, he is prepared to do whatever it takes for Britain’s Davis Cup hopes, just as he did in 2015 when he led the team to victory. When it comes to the Davis Cup, he’ll never let it go.