Murray attacked by brother over cup withdrawal
If there was criticism last week of Andy Murray's withdrawal from this weekend's Davis Cup tie here against Argentina, it was kept within the British ranks. Yesterday, however, the world No 11's own brother, Jamie, made it clear that his colleagues were deeply unhappy with his decision.
"It was a shock to me, and I think for the team it's also very disappointing," Jamie said. "It's a shame that he decided that it was best for him not to come here. It kind of affects the way we feel about him."
In the past the Murrays have been as close as you would expect – they share a flat in London when they are not on the road and have always been very supportive of one another – but Jamie, who will play with Ross Hutchins, a close friend of his brother, in Saturday's doubles rubber, believes that Andy has let his team-mates down.
Although Argentina would still have been clear favourites to win the tie, which begins here tomorrow, Andy's participation would have meant the result was by no means a foregone conclusion. Now, however, Britain's two singles players will be Alex Bogdanovic and Jamie Baker, Nos 188 and 235 respectively in the world rankings, while Argentina, playing on their favourite surface and in defence of a 10-match winning run on home soil, will call upon David Nalbandian (No 9) and either Agustin Calleri (41) or Jose Acasuso (50).
Patricio Apey, Andy's agent, telephoned John Lloyd, the British captain, last week to tell him that the country's only world-class singles player was pulling out of their first match for five years in the Davis Cup's elite World Group because of a recurring problem with his right knee.
Andy said the injury had flared up again as a result of his particularly heavy training programme during the winter and was withdrawing as a precautionary measure after being advised that changing playing surfaces three times in quick succession could have a detrimental effect on his knee. Having competed on hard courts in Qatar and Australia last month, he would have played on clay here and then returned to indoor hard courts in Marseilles next week. However, it did not help his public relations that his own website showed him playing football with three friends last week.
"From what I've heard he hasn't actually said that he was injured, it was more of a preventive thing," Jamie said. "If he really wanted to push himself, he probably could have come here to play the tie."
Jamie said he had not been aware of his brother having any problem with his knee and had not had any contact with him since the Australian Open. "There isn't really much to say. I'm here working hard for the team, trying to do the best I can, and he's at home doing whatever he's doing."
Would Jamie attempt to clear the air with Andy at stage? "That's kind of up to him. I don't see why I should go to him or anything like that. From his point of view, I guess that he doesn't have anything to apologise for as he's taken the decision not to come."
Jamie said that his brother's presence could have made a crucial difference to the tie. "I think he has the ability to win two singles matches," he said. "He's been in the top 10 and that's not by fluke. I think he would have liked to have come here and had the crowd against him. He plays better in those circumstances.
"I don't think he has played particularly well in his Davis Cup matches at home, though he's still won. I think when he has his back to the wall is when he plays his best tennis. If he had come here, and really wanted to win and do his best, I think that he would have caused them some problems. He's a world-class player."
Did he think Andy would eventually regret his decision not to play? "I guess not, as otherwise he would have wanted to come. I think for us guys who are here it's going to be an incredible experience to play a World Group tie in an atmosphere like this and in a country like this, with all their supporters behind them. We'll go out there and try our best. We're not expecting to win, but we're hoping to embrace the whole situation and take what we can from it.
"Andy hadn't indicated to me that he hasn't enjoyed Davis Cup. It's not that he doesn't enjoy it, it's just that he obviously felt that it was more important for him to concentrate on Marseilles and play well there rather than come here."
Lloyd, who has subsequently spoken to Andy on the telephone, said the team had enjoyed their training camp at Vina del Mar in Chile last week, despite the bad news they had received. "Morale is good now, but it was a big blow, there's no question about that," he said. "We were all very surprised. We weren't expecting it at all."
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