If ticket sales are any guide to the likely atmosphere when Britain face the United States in the Davis Cup here this weekend, expect the roof of the Emirates Arena to be shaking. Such is the interest in Andy Murray in this part of the world that tickets for all three days sold out within 10 minutes of going on sale in November.
“This is the biggest home tie I have ever played,” Murray said after a practice session in the arena. “This is home. This is where I grew up. This is where my family live. Except for me and my brother, they virtually all still live in Dunblane. I still have very strong ties to Dunblane.”
Murray, who is set to play alongside his brother Jamie in Saturday’s doubles, has loved playing for his country ever since he made his Davis Cup debut exactly 10 years ago. This tie could be his most memorable yet. The 27-year-old Scot played his first match in the World Group last year when Britain upset the odds to beat the United States in San Diego, but this will be the first time he has played in the elite section on home soil.
Capacity crowds of 7,700 on each day will watch Britain’s first home World Group tie for 13 years and their first against the United States since a memorable encounter in Birmingham 16 years ago. That went to a deciding rubber in which Jim Courier, the current American captain, beat Greg Rusedski 8-6 in the fifth set.
“I’ve been very lucky to have been part of the team for 10 years and played some great matches,” Murray said. “I absolutely loved playing Israel when I was 17. To still be doing it now, and playing in front of a packed home crowd against a big nation with a lot of history in the sport, is very nice. I hope I can perform well.”
At yesterday’s press conference the only time Murray appeared reluctant to talk was when he was questioned about his comments last year on Twitter, when he caused a major stir by coming out in favour of Scottish independence. Asked whether people might think that could affect his motivation to play for Britain, a stony-faced Murray said: “I guess we will see at the weekend.” When asked if he understood why some people might see it as an issue, he replied curtly: “No, not at all.”
The Americans are clearly aware of the sensitivities involved. “We obviously know there is a political undercurrent here, we are aware of that, and that just adds a little intrigue,” Courier said. “It’s another wrinkle, another element to this competition. We know what it means to everybody to play for their country, and maybe a little bit extra special for Andy and Jamie playing here in Scotland.”
Last year the United States chose to face Britain in a subdued atmosphere in the open air in a baseball stadium. “Even though they had home advantage, they didn’t make the most of it and I think we will,” Leon Smith, Britain’s captain, said. “It will be a big noise and a big atmosphere and there’s no doubt that will make a big difference.”
Jamie Murray delayed his practice session because he was suffering from a cold, but is expected to be fine. James Ward and Dominic Inglot, the other two members of the Britain team, also practised, as did the American team of John Isner, Donald Young and the Bryan brothers. Young said he had recovered from an elbow problem which forced him to retire from a match last week.Reuse content