Absent Murray on-message
LEON Smith reckons Andy Murray can still help Team GB beat Canada in their Davis Cup first-round tie in Ottawa from February 3-5 even though the world No.1 is close to 3,500 miles away resting at home in Surrey with his family.
Captain Smith revealed he expects Murray to keep in touch with words of encouragement and advice via his mobile after confirming the double Wimbledon and Olympic champion would not be playing and that Dan Evans, Kyle Edmund, Jamie Murray and Dom Inglot would make up the team.
British No.1 Murray completed a punishing schedule to reach the summit by the end of 2016 and was adjudged in some quarters to be below his best when he suffered an early exit in the Australian Open.
We (will) all miss him because he is such a great influence both on and off the court.
And Smith said to the BBC: It’s the right thing for him to do what he’s doing, stay at home, get some rest.
He added to the Daily Mail in Ottawa: We (will) all miss him because he is such a great influence both on and off the court. Like we saw last year, he puts a lot of interest and care into this team.
He obviously gets on really well with the four players here and he will be watching for sure. He will send in messages. I will get to see them at some point, although I’m not allowed a phone on court. I’m sure he will ping some messages back and forwards.
He watches all of our guys, not just the four here, the ones on the Challenger circuit and is often feeding back a lot of info.
We talked about it pretty openly so we always knew it was going to be a challenging one for him, and it’s the right thing for him to do, stay at home, get some rest after what was an unbelievable three-four months for him.
We can focus on these four here who are really good players.
Smith has so much confidence in his chosen team. No wonder, Evans and Edmund are ranked inside the top 50 by the ATP World Tour and AndyÈs elder brother Jamie has reached the global top spot in doubles.
Evans reached the fourth round in Melbourne and, with his listing of 45, goes in the British No.1 for a Cup tie for the first time.
The Birmingham-born ace said to the Daily Mail: I got back (from Australia on) Tuesday and hit some balls on Thursday and we flew direct on Saturday. I went to Cheltenham for two nights and went to London for the rest, I actually wasn’t in Birmingham at all.
I didn’t have a night out. It was pretty nice, to get home and see some nice words which I didn’t see when I was in Australia, but I didn’t notice much change. I didn’t really see many people.
Canada are without a top-100 player with Milos Raonic, the world No.3 whom Andy Murray defeated in finals at QueenÈs and Wimbledon last summer, absent due to an abductor injury.