Murray sits out opener but still aims for doubles

Only time will tell whether he has been right to defy medical advice, but the sighs of relief that greeted Andy Murray's decision to play in Britain's Davis Cup tie here this weekend were probably as strong as the winds that buffeted the marquee where the draw was made yesterday.

It is no coincidence that the emergence of the Dunblane-born Murray has come at the same time as the Braehead Arena in Glasgow hosting the match against Serbia and Montenegro - the first tie Scotland has staged for 36 years - and spectators turning up to discover the local hero missing might have felt as though they had arrived at Wimbledon only to find strawberries off the menu.

Having initially been doubtful because of an ankle injury he suffered last month in Miami, Murray was unable to practise until two days ago after being struck down with a fever. He has been on antibiotics and decided he could not risk playing in this afternoon's singles matches, but he will play in tomorrow's doubles with Greg Rusedski and possibly the reverse singles on Sunday, depending on the state of the match and how he feels.

Murray, who reported no problems with his ankle, said: "The doctor told me that if it was his son he would say not to play, but he said it was my decision. It could have been a problem if I had to play a long five-set singles match on Friday, but I will have had four or five days of feeling better before I play in the doubles. And playing doubles obviously isn't as draining physically as playing a five-set singles match.

"I feel 10 times better than I did on Sunday and Monday. I felt that I couldn't justify playing on Friday when I'd taken five days off after Miami, come back and practised for two and a half hours and then got sick and been unable to play on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday.

"The doctor's advice was not to play because of what can happen with infections if you come back too quickly. But I hit for the first time yesterday for an hour and I felt OK afterwards." Today Murray will be replaced by Arvind Parmar, who plays Novak Djokovic, the world No 64. Parmar, 28, has lost all five of his previous Davis Cup rubbers, though he showed some form recently by reaching the quarter-finals of an ATP tournament in Rotterdam. Djokovic, 18, is a week younger than Murray and has had a similarly meteoric rise, becoming the youngest player ever to be ranked in the world's top 100.

The first match sees Rusedski take on Janko Tipsarevic, the world No 97. Rusedski won comfortably on their only previous meeting and should win on the fast indoor court which was installed with the big-serving British No 2 in in mind.

Tomorrow's doubles could be crucial in deciding which team will go through from this Europe-Africa Zone match into a play-off for a place in the World Group. Although Nenad Zimonjic and Ilia Bozoljac have played together only once before, when they won a tournament in Belgrade three years ago, the former is ranked No 10 in the world in doubles. Murray and Rusedski lost their only previous match together, against Roger Federer and Yves Allegro in the Davis Cup last September.

With all agreed that a noisy Scottish crowd could have a major role to play, the Serbs took the initiative by turning up for yesterday's draw wearing Scotland football shirts. "We're trying to get the crowd behind us," Djokovic said with a smile.

Davis Cup Euro-Africa Zone: Great Britain v Serbia and Montenegro. Today (begins 12.00): Rusedski v Tipsarevic; Parmar v Djokovic. Saturday (13.00): Rusedski and Murray v Zimonjic and Bozoljac. Sunday (12.00): Reverse singles.


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