When Leon Smith was appointed as British Davis Cup captain in succession to John Lloyd nearly three years ago, a massive part of the Scot’s appeal was his close relationship with Andy Murray. But the US Open champion and world no.3 will again be absent for the fifth time in seven ties since Smith got the job when the British team play April’s crucial Europe/Africa Zone Group One tie against Russia.
Without Murray the prospects for the British team are not good, though they do have the home advantage with the tie being held in the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. The highest ranked singles players Smith can call, upon are Jamie Baker (world no. 207) Josh Goodall (no.266) and James Ward (no.270).
Russia won the David Cup in 2002 and 2006, and have only recently lost World Group status, whereas Britain have been settled in the lower tier for some time. Four Russian players figure inside the top 100; Mikhail Youzhny (no.27), Nikolay Davydenko (no.37), the emergent Evgeny Donskoy (no.69) and Andrey Kuznetsov (no.77). The experienced trio of Igor Andreev, Dmitry Tursuonov and Alex Bogomolov Jr. are all ranked inside the top 150.
Murray is insistent the tie, which begins on April 7 and will be played on an indoor hard court at a new venue for Davis Cup, does not fit into his transition from hard courts to clay before the European spring. He hasn’t a played Davis Cup tie since 2011, when he led the team to a win against Luxembourg.
“It’s a shame to miss out on the Davis Cup, as I always enjoy playing,” said Murray. “I speak to Leon and the team on a regular basis and will definitely be available to play the next Davis Cup tie later this year.”
Smith, who is also head of Men’s and Women’s Tennis with the Lawn Tennis Association, adopted an understanding mood rather than state Britain’s only chance of victory in an Davis Cup tie currently seems to rest on whether Murray decides to represent his country.
“Andy has worked extremely hard on his game, elevating it to another level and we have all seen the fruits of that since Wimbledon,” said Smith who was Murray’s junior coach and appointed the player’s mother Judy to be Britain’s Fed Cup captain.
“His success continues to inspire more and more young people to take up the sport and we look forward to welcoming him back into the team in September.
“We are very excited to be taking Davis Cup to Coventry and taking advantage of strong home support. It will be tough against Russia, who are arguably the strongest team in our group, but we’ll be giving it our best shot.”
Britain will also be without regular doubles player Ross Hutchins who is currently undergoing treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
©Daily Tennsi News Wire