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London | Henman is named captain for ATP Cup

Tim Henman has predicted Andy Murray will “improve a lot more physically” after the former world No.1’s dramatic comeback from a career-threatening hip problem which required surgery at the start of the year.

I don’t have any aspirations to be Davis Cup captain Tim Henman

Murray, who recently won in Antwerp, leads Britain into the Davis Cup in Madrid next week and, under Henman’s captaincy, at the new ATP Cup in Australia in January.

Henman said during the ATP Tour Finals: “It’s incredible, isn’t it? It’s easy in hindsight to say, “Oh, everybody was writing him off a bit quickly”, but when you understand the severity of the operation, no one knew how that was going to unfold.

“But you reflect on seeing him in Melbourne in tears and then it’s incredible nine, ten months later for him to be winning a tournament in Antwerp. I’ve been around him and seen how. I think he can improve a lot more physically and the tennis element is never going to be a problem, but if he can still get fitter and stronger and faster, then he’s going to play better.”

He feels the format of the ATP Cup will help Murray and fancies Britain to make its mark.

Henman said: “That’s where, given the round robin format, we definitely do have options to rotate the players, and certainly with the singles with Andy, Dan (Evans) and Cam (Norrie), I like our chances. Likewise with the doubles. You sort of feel that most of them could play with each other.

“That will be much more part of the planning and discussing once we get to Australia, I think. How they deal with getting there, the conditions. But it is nice. I’ve been part of times where we haven’t had any options and that’s harder. I think with this one, with these five, we’ve got plenty of options.”

Henman is “excited” he has been chosen by Murray to be British skipper down under.

But believes Davis Cup-winning captain Leon Smith is unlikely to link up with his team.

When asked whether Smith would be part of it, Henman said: “Probably not. I think with me being captain of the ATP Cup and the structure being a little bit different I think he in the Davis Cup role is very much coaching the players whereas I would expect in the ATP Cup it’s a slightly more relaxed environment, expecting the individual coaches of the players to come along as well so it’s probably not so relevant for him to be there.

“These guys have got their own individual coaches so it’s not like I’m going to come in and start making drastic changes to their games technically. I think at this level it’s all about strategy it’s all about game plans and the way that players impose themselves and the games of their opponents so I guess you are trying to prepare them to make sure they play their best tennis.”

Did Smith want to do it? Henman said: “Well there isn’t really a choice is there because the number one player decides, so as I said I would have thought Leon would have been a very good option but with it being a different event Andy wanted to have a bit of a change.”

The former world No.4 played down whether he would one day want the same role in Davis Cup, which has its finals in Madrid next week.

He said: “I don’t have any aspirations to be Davis Cup captain. It is a different scenario now, but the commitment would always have been 8-10 weeks given the nature of the tournament. A much more significant commitment.

“I can’t go next week – I have got other stuff on – but I will definitely be watching.”



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