Beckham backs role of Murray's supportive parents

David Beckham is probably out of the price range, though he is a tennis enthusiast. His brown beanie was the focus of attention as a frenzied group of youngsters and a camera crew jostled with security staff in an effort to get close to the England football captain as he made his way out of the arena on Thursday.

The way things are going, it may not be long before the 18-year-old Andy Murray is in danger of being mobbed.

Did Beckham have advice for Britain's rising tennis talent about the fame game? "No, not really," he said. "I've seen his mother talk on the TV and I think he's got strong parents behind him. That's what he needs, what he can rely on, because I've had that in my life."

Beckham is aware of Murray's potential. "Of course," he said. "Everyone knows about him in our country. I think he's great. I think it's good to have new people coming through. We've obviously got Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski, but to have Murray coming through I think it's great for our country.

"Tennis is a sport I love to watch. Every time the Madrid Masters is on I come down. It's always a great atmosphere. I haven't been to Wimbledon because every time it's on I'm either on holiday or there's a World Cup or European Championship. But it's a great sport. It's a quick sport, and I like that."

The 30-year-old Beckham has produced some of his best form for Real Madrid lately in spite of a back problem. "The pain means I have to have an injection before and after games so that I can play without pain," he said. "I hope it's over with soon."

Murray, who says he will take a keen interest in England's progress in the World Cup next year, was practising with Henman at London's Queen's Club yesterday in preparation for next week's tournament in Basle. His tweaked hamstring has healed and, apart from a cold, he is in good fettle.

He says he is not the type who wants "flash cars or big houses". He has one suit, which was given to him, and says he does not plan to get another. His mother, Judy finds it hard even to persuade him to have a haircut.

"Certainly Andy's not quite reached the heights of David Beckham in terms of being in the public eye," Judy said. "Andy's not instantly recognisable. It will happen, and then he will have to be more careful. But David Beckham's right. Andy needs to know he's got a strong team around him so he can handle it as well as he has so far."

The American Robby Ginepri, who was beaten by Murray in the quarter-finals of the Thailand Open, advanced to the semi-finals here yesterday with a 6-1, 6-4 win against David Ferrer, of Spain.

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