Murray set to grin and bear it in aid of Britain's survival bid

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The Independent Online

He has shaved for the first time since before the Olympics, his hair has been given some attention and he was on court yesterday wearing all-white tennis gear. Yes, Andy Murray is preparing again for Wimbledon, where he returns on Friday for Britain's Davis Cup tie against Austria.

Nevertheless, there is only so much a makeover can do. The 21-year-old Scot was at the David Lloyd Leisure complex in Raynes Park, south-west London, yesterday meeting winners of the "Road to Andy Murray" competition for five to 12-year-olds. "One of them told me that I needed to smile more," the British No 1 said afterwards.

Just seven days after his US Open final defeat to Roger Federer, Murray was in good heart as he looked ahead to a tie Britain must win to stay in the World Group. Alex Bogdanovic will be the second British singles player while Murray is likely to partner his brother, Jamie, in the doubles. "I started practising again on Saturday," Murray said. "In the first few days after I came home I didn't do anything except walk the dog. I took three or four days off. I just tried to relax, recharge the batteries and give myself a decent amount of time to let my muscles recover."

When the draw was made Murray told John Lloyd, the British captain, that he would have preferred to play on an indoor hard court. The world No 4, who will play on indoor hard courts for the rest of the year and has spent his summer on the American outdoor hard-court circuit, aggravates his long-term knee problem when changing playing surfaces, which was why he pulled out of the tie on clay in Argentina back in February.

"I don't get angry about having to play on grass," Murray said. "It's just that it takes four or five days for my bones and muscles to get used to it again. You can come off at the US Open and feel stiff the next day, but here it's very different. Your lower back, glutes and hamstrings get really tight because the balls are bouncing very low. It takes a while to get used to.

"My knee starts to hurt when I continually change courts. I started practising on Saturday so that I could have a couple of light days on court just to get used to it again."

Lloyd consulted Murray about the surface but explained: "If you have two really top singles players, as we did when Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski were playing, I think you only concern yourself with what they want to play on, not the opposition. We're in a different situation. We have one world-class player and a No 2 who's a little way down the rankings. Then I think you have to think more about the opposition and what they do and don't like playing on."

Murray added: "Who John picks in the team and what surface he plays on is his decision. That's why he's the captain of the team. I agree that grass is our best chance to win the match, but ideally I would have preferred to play on hard court."

Noting the example of Marat Safin, who has pulled out of Russia's tie against Argentina on clay in Buenos Aires this week because he then plays on indoor hard courts in Bangkok, Murray said: "I think the only way to solve this would be that if a Davis Cup week comes straight after a Slam, let's have the Davis Cup on the surface that everyone has just finished playing on. Then there are no excuses."

Twelve months ago the retiring Tim Henman was the centre of attention as Britain beat Croatia at Wimbledon to secure their return to the World Group. Murray agreed that this week's tie would feel very different. "I actually called Tim the other day and left a message on his phone, saying it was a bit strange not seeing him at the Davis Cup and to ask if he fancied coming along to help out the team," Murray said. "I just hope that everyone sees this as an opportunity to give themselves a bit of confidence, make a bit of a name for themselves and, hopefully, push on. It's a big stage to be playing at Wimbledon."