Davis Cup: Team spirit a welcome distraction for Andy Murray
Andy Murray has put his US Open disappointment behind him and is relishing the chance of playing in his first Davis Cup tie for two years here this weekend. Murray is ready to feature on all three days of Britain's play-off against Croatia for a place in the elite 16-nation World Group next year.
"I've trained well this week," he said yesterday. "I've practised very well. I played good tennis in practice. I've hit the ball cleanly the whole week."
In the Wimbledon champion's most recent appearance he lost to Stanislas Wawrinka in the US Open quarter-finals. "I wasn't that happy with the way that particular match went," Murray admitted. "Obviously I would like to have done a lot better. But if we're going to be getting down on reaching the quarter-finals of Slams for the rest of my career, well, that's fine.
"It's quite easy just because Wimbledon was such a high for everyone [to think] that losing in the quarter-finals seems like a massive low, but when things are good and going really well, they're sometimes better than they seem, and when things are going badly, often they're not quite as bad as people think. I'm not playing that badly."
Murray said he had given himself less time to prepare for the US Open following Wimbledon. He also thought his efforts at the All England Club, particularly the remarkable 12-minute game at the end of the final against Novak Djokovic, had taken their toll.
"That was pretty stressful," Murray said. "There was a lot of pressure. I don't know if there have been many players who have ever played under that much pressure. It was a lot to take in."
Murray said he had always enjoyed the Davis Cup. "You feel pressure playing for a team because you want to win but you also know you have a group of guys that, whether you win or lose, they're going to be behind you and supporting you," he said.
The world No 3 will play today's opening rubber against Borna Coric, who will be making his Davis Cup debut at 16. Coric won the US Open junior title last Sunday – Murray won the same event nine years ago – and has been preferred to world No 205 Antonio Veic, who could yet replace him in the reverse singles.
Coric, who trains in London with his coach Ryan Jones, may have been chosen on the basis that Murray looks sure to win both his singles rubbers and that today is a chance to give him his first taste of Davis Cup competition.
However, Murray warned, without the hint of a smile on his face: "It's not going to be an enjoyable experience for him tomorrow."
Britain last played Croatia in 2007, when a victory at Wimbledon earned their last spell in the World Group, which lasted just a year. Croatia chose to stage this tie on clay, though their ploy may have backfired in the absence of Marin Cilic, who would have been a key performer on the surface.
This is the first time Croatia have staged a tie in this resort here on the Istrian coast, which hosts an ATP event in July. Umag is packed with tourists in summer but is very quiet now, with many hotels preparing to shut for the winter.
In today's second singles match, Ivan Dodig, the world No 35, plays Dan Evans, whose efforts in reaching the US Open third round earned him a spot ahead of James Ward, who has been replaced in the team by Jonny Marray.
Murray is scheduled to play with Colin Fleming in tomorrow's doubles, but Marray, who is Fleming's regular partner, gives Leon Smith, the British captain, another option.
Davis Cup: Details
Friday 10am BST
Saturday 1pm BST
Sunday 10am BST
Order of play: (date for each match dependent on playing time)
R1 Borna Coric v Andy Murray
R2 Ivan Dodig v Dan Evans
R3 Ivan Dodig/Mate Pavic v Colin Fleming/Andy Murray
R4 Ivan Dodig v Andy Murray
R5 Borna Coric v Dan Evans
Venue Stadion Stella Maris, Umag, Croatia
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