British No 1 opts out of Davis Cup showdown
Andy Murray has told Leon Smith, Britain's new Davis Cup captain, that he will be unavailable for next month's relegation play-off against Turkey. The losers of the tie, which will be played at Eastbourne the weekend after the Wimbledon finals, will be relegated to the competition's lowest tier, alongside the likes of Andorra, Moldova and Albania.
Murray, who also chose not to play in Britain's defeat away to Lithuania in March, said that he had decided after last September's loss to Poland – in which he played despite a wrist injury that kept him out for the next six weeks – that it was time to take a break from the Davis Cup.
"I'll play Davis Cup in the future, that's for sure, but not right now," Murray said after informing Smith of his decision. "This is a match that should be won without me, a match that, potentially, they could win 5-0 without me playing. I think it's time that we started to give the [other] guys a chance to actually win matches." The Scot insisted that he loved playing in the Davis Cup, however. "My results would show that I do. I've won 10 singles matches in a row."
Despite Murray's optimism, Turkey are likely to have the highest-ranked singles player at Devonshire Park in Marsel Ilhan, the world No 119. With Alex Bogdanovic, the British No 2, also opting out following his cut in LTA funding, the highest-ranked players at Smith's disposal will be Jamie Baker (world No 259), Dan Evans (326) and James Ward (342).
Bogdanovic and Evans both lost yesterday in the second round of qualifying for Wimbledon. Bogdanovic lost a four-hour marathon to France's Nicolas Mahut 6-3, 3-6, 22-24, while Evans went down 5-7, 3-6 to Lithuania's Ricardas Berankis. With Josh Goodall also losing, 6-4, 4-6, 8-10 to Russia's Evgeny Kirillov, Britain will have only two men in the main draw at Wimbledon, Murray and Jamie Baker, who has a wild card. Naomi Cavaday and Lisa Whybourn were yesterday's only British winners in the women's qualifying matches.
Britons fared better at the Aegon event at Eastbourne. Ward beat Feliciano Lopez, the world No 30, who retired with a shoulder injury when trailing 6-3, 5-4. Elena Baltacha went through in similar circumstances. The British No 1 lost the first set to Li Na on a tie-break, after which the Chinese retired with a leg problem.
Heather Watson, Britain's US Open junior champion, claimed her first victory in the main draw of a tour event when she beat Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak, the world No 48, 6-3, 6-2. Watson, 18, now plays the world No 15, Victoria Azarenka.
Caroline Wozniacki, the top seed, and Francesca Schiavone, the French Open champion, both went out but Kim Clijsters advanced, beating her fellow Belgian Yanina Wickmayer.
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