Murray struggles as injury returns
British No 1's Davis Cup win is overshadowed by anxiety after wrist problem flares up
Saturday 19 September 2009
Short of the team bus crashing into Liverpool's Albert Dock on the way to the Echo Arena it would have been hard to imagine much more going wrong for John Lloyd, the British captain, in yesterday's Davis Cup tie against Poland.
Andy Murray's 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Michal Przysiezny in the opening singles was overshadowed by a recurrence of his recent wrist problem, with the world No 3 even casting doubt over whether he would play again this year, while Dan Evans was beaten 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 by Jerzy Janowicz to leave the tie finely balanced at 1-1. Lloyd now has to decide whether to risk Murray or to replace him with Colin Fleming in today's doubles alongside Ross Hutchins against the world's 11th-ranked doubles pair of Marcin Matkowski and Mariusz Fyrstenberg.
If Britain were to lose the doubles, they would have to win both of tomorrow's singles matches to avoid relegation to Europe Africa Zone Group Two, effectively the Davis Cup's third division. Murray, perhaps with a wrist further damaged by playing in the doubles, would be due to face the hard- hitting Janowicz, while Evans would be up against Przysiezny, who yesterday played like the world No 190 he was two years ago before he suffered the injuries that have contributed to the drift to his current ranking of No 678.
Asked last night what he would do if Murray felt he could play only one more rubber this weekend, Lloyd said he would probably save him for tomorrow's singles.
Murray, who had an ice bag on his inflamed wrist after the match, has had problems with it since before the US Open and is to see the specialist who treated the injury to his right wrist which kept him out of the game for three months two summers ago.
Despite regular treatment since he last played, 11 days ago at the US Open, the wrist was hurting again yesterday, forcing the Scot to hit fewer double-handed backhands and more one-handed slices. "It's when I try to generate pace and put topspin on the ball that I found myself trying to hold back quite a lot," he said. "Any time I play on it is making it worse."
Following the reaction to his withdrawal from two of Britain's last three Davis Cup ties – away to Argentina last year (when he was concerned he might damage his suspect knee by switching from hard courts to clay) and at home to Ukraine this March (when he had a virus) – Murray was anxious not to pull out this weekend.
Murray, who is taking painkillers, said: "I thought about it, but last time something like that happened I spent the next three months answering questions on whether you were dedicated enough to play for your country, does the Davis Cup mean anything to you, is it important enough, do you feel like you let your country down?
"It's pathetic. I play hard when I play for my country. I've always enjoyed playing for it and you can ask John [Lloyd] and all the guys around the team. I came up on Sunday with the rest of the guys and I practised hard. I love being around a team atmosphere and every time I feel I am fit enough to play Davis Cup I will play. And if I am not feeling well or hurt, I can't, regardless of whether it's the Davis Cup or a small ATP tournament."
As for playing in today's doubles, Murray said: "If I feel fine I'll play. If I don't then I might not pla,y because I can't make it worse every single day and then by Sunday be struggling. I also sacrificed a lot to play in the tie and I don't want to end up hurting myself so badly that I can't play for a few months."
Murray's next scheduled tournament is the Japan Open in a fortnight, but he said he did not know when he would be fit to play again, casting doubt even on whether he would compete in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in November.
"I will have to see," he said. "If it takes four months to get there, then it takes four months. If it takes a week, I will take a week off. I don't know how long it's going to take to get better. We'll have to wait and see how the treatment goes."
He added: "Any time you have an injury it's not going to get better the more you play on it. You need to try to take some time off and let it recover because four or five days isn't enough."
The 5,000-capacity Echo Arena was only about three-quarters full, but with two rows of cheer-leading, kilted Scots there was a boisterous atmosphere. Murray, whose wrist problems were clear, played well within himself, though Przysiezny showed a good touch at the net. Evans played well in patches, but had his serve broken six times. On this showing the 19-year-old from Birmingham would be hard pressed to beat Przysiezny tomorrow.
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