Andy Murray ready for Davis Cup pressure
Times Online and Agencies
Andy Murray is ready to handle the additional pressure Tim Henman's farewell appearance will put on Great Britain's tennis team in next week's vital Davis Cup clash with Croatia at Wimbledon.
Victory will take them back into the elite World Group but Murray - who has now assumed the mantle of figurehead of British tennis - is not underestimating the effect Henman's emotional departure could have.
"I don't normally get nervous when I'm playing matches but I'm already thinking about this one," said Murray.
"Tim's last match is going to be at Wimbledon so, yes, it adds a bit of pressure but a lot of excitement as well and I'm really looking forward to it. I think it's going to be special for Tim, the rest of the team and the fans as well."
Murray is confident that the Great Britain team is strong enough to take advantage on home turf, saying: "I'm sure we've got the team to do it. Everybody's fired up for it. Tim's obviously going to be really looking forward to it and he'll be pumped up.
"We're pretty comfortable on grass and although the Croats are obviously very good players, it's not their best surface so hopefully we can come out on top."
Murray accepts that, with Henman following Greg Rusedski into retirement, he will have to shoulder the burden of the nation's Davis Cup hopes for the foreseeable future.
He wants to team up with brother Jamie in the doubles and that will almost certainly mean playing three matches in three days in every Davis Cup tie, a workload which Henman admitted eventually took its toll on him.
"After Tim's gone I don't think they've got too many options," said Andy. "I hope a few guys can come up so it's not just about me and Jamie. I'm sure for the next year or so it might be like that - but maybe in a couple of years it will be different."
He admits that Henman will be a hard act to follow but he is relishing the challenge.
"Tim is British tennis, really. He's been one of the greatest British sportsmen of the last 10 years - no question. Everybody who is an athlete knows how difficult it is to stay at the top of a sport for such a long period of time," he added.
"He's had bad injuries and always come back from them, he's played great in Davis Cup, played great at Wimbledon and he's dealt with the pressure really, really well. I think he's a great player and a great role model who always handled himself well.
"I've learned a lot from him. I spoke to him a lot and he helped me when I was coming on to the tour. He's one of the few guys that nobody dislikes. Normally when you are playing a professional sport, especially an individual one, you fall out with people.
"Team-mates in football fall out all the time but Tim gets on with everyone. He speaks to everyone and everyone says nice things to him so I'm sure he'll get a nice send-off."
Henman, meanwhile, has withdrawn from an exhibition tennis event this weekend after becoming a father for the third time, his wife, Lucy, giving birth to a baby girl, Grace, weighing 8 pounds, 11 ounces on Friday afternoon. They have two other daughters, Rosie, four, and Olivia, two.
Henman was due to play Croatian Wimbledon winner Goran Ivanisevic at the O2 Arena tomorrow. “I was looking forward to playing at Betfair Turbo Tennis on Saturday, but obviously my place is with my family at this happy time,” he said. His place will be taken by Greg Rusedski.