Do you buy it?
Defiant Andy Murray defends record of commitment to Britain's Davis Cup cause
Simon Cambers in Marseilles
At the age of 20, Andy Murray has already been subjected to his fair share of criticism. The Scot’s attitude, fitness and even his haircut have been called into question at various times, but never his commitment to the Davis Cup. Not, that is, until last weekend, when he decided to miss the first-round tie in Argentina.
Murray cited a longstanding knee injury that flares up every now and again and the need to protect himself against long-term damage, but despite the validity of the reason, he was still criticised for leaving Britain as lambs to the slaughter in Buenos Aires.
While the world’s top players, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, would no doubt understand his actions — they also skipped their first-round ties — Murray was still harangued, not least by his brother, Jamie, who was quoted as saying that “it kind of affects how I feel about him”.
The pair are about as close as brothers can get, but Murray, who reiterated his desire yesterday to play in the Davis Cup in the future, said he had still not spoken to Jamie and admitted that it would be a tricky conversation when they do get together.
Murray through to second round in Marseilles
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Murray injury leaves Britain in the lurch
“[The comments were] a little bit disappointing,” Murray said in Marseilles, where he began his campaign at the Open 13 with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Jesse Huta Galung, a Dutch qualifier ranked 190 in the world and a former housemate of Murray from their time together as juniors in Barcelona. “He obviously felt pretty strongly about it and he’s entitled to his opinion. Again, if he knew what it was like playing three five-set matches in a row on clay, then maybe he would understand my position a bit better.
“I’ve not spoken to him yet. I’ll see him soon. I guess we’ll have to have a chat about it and just sort out our feelings on Davis Cup and the sort of position that I am in, but it’s probably not going to be the most fun conversation to have with your brother.”
To his immense credit, given the dearth of talent behind him — he is the only Briton in the world’s top 200 and one of only four in the top 300 — Murray has always turned out for Britain. Had he played in Argentina, where Britain lost 4-1, and picked up an injury, undoubtedly there would have been criticism from some quarters for his lack of professionalism.
Missing it was the sensible thing to do, but Murray admitted that it had been a difficult situation. “It was quite tough for me,” he said. “I feel like, in the past, when I played Davis Cup, I’ve given 110 per cent every time I stepped on the court. People forget when I played against Holland [last April], I had a problem with my groin. I couldn’t move in Miami and had physios telling me not to play.
“I went and played, and won my match, and got the job done. Then the week after, I hurt my back in Monte Carlo because I couldn’t practise enough to get ready for the tournament because I had to take some time off after the Davis Cup.
“I had to take the decision and a lot of people didn’t like it, but it’s one of those things that happens. If I wasn’t caring about the Davis Cup, I wouldn’t have been following every single point on my phone, watching the bits and pieces I could and watching live scores on the internet.
“If people want to say that I am not committed to playing for my country and don’t put 110 per cent in, then I think that’s pretty unfair.”