By Phil James
Overshadowing the Davis Cup win and next round draw was the news that Andy Murray is to have a back operation on Monday (23rd September) which could end his year.
A statement from Andy’s management team said that the surgery is only minor but that the Scot would definitely miss tournaments in Bangkok, Tokyo and Shanghai.
While the first two tournaments are only ATP 250 and 500 events respectively, Shanghai is one of the marquee Masters series events and a mandatory tournament.
Realistically Andy’s participation in the Paris Masters (end of October) and the season ending World Tour Finals (November) in London must also be questionable.
It will be particularly disappointing if British tennis fans miss out on seeing the world number 3 play again on home soil where he has already won Queens and Wimbledon in 2013.
But it’s a sacrifice worth making if it means an end to the back troubles which saw Andy retire during the Italian Open and miss the French Open this year.
If Andy’s twitter feed is anything to go by, he will be spending his recovery time supporting his Davis Cup team mates around the world, and playing the Pro-Evo game!
— Andy Murray (@andy_murray) September 20, 2013
Davis Cup draw
Just 24 hours before the announcement of Andy’s surgery was the draw for next year’s Davis Cup which saw Great Britain pitted against the U.S.A.
The tie, which is Britain’s first World Group match since February 2008, will be played in 31 January – 2 February with the US as the home team which choice of venue and surface.
Though USA were the 6th seeds the draw is as good as Team GB could hope for, with Kazakhstan the only tennis minnow that they could have faced.
With the choice of surface a crucial factor in the Davis Cup, Team GB Captain Leon Smith will be confident that the US will choose their favourite surface of a hard court.
With Andy Murray committing himself to the team, and Dan Evans showing career best form on the American hard courts, that choice would suit Britain as much as it would the Americans.
The draw puts Britain in the opposite half of the draw to Spain and this year’s finalist Czech Republic with Italy or Argentina or Italy as possible quarter-final opponents.
The tie of the round may well be Djokovic’s Serbia, who will contest November’s final, against Switzerland with the in-form Stan Warinka and possibly Roger Federer.
Britain could meet the winner of that tie in the semi, but first they will need to get past the American’s which is not a given.
U.S.A.’s last two ties, a first round win over Brazil and a quarter-final loss to Serbia, have seen the team comprise of John Isner and Sam Querrey with Bob and Mike Bryan playing the doubles rubber.
With no other player in the top 50, barring injury one would expect the same line-up and Murray should win matches against Isner and Querrey nine times out of ten on a hard court.
That would leave one rubber win needed from Dan Evans who on recent form is more than capable of such an upset, or a doubles win over the world number one Bryan brothers.
Though the American twins have looked unbeatable at times this year, Colin Fleming and Jonathan Marray ran them close in the US Open quarters this month and they, or with Andy Murray stepping in, would have a real chance.
WTA tour this week
Laura Robson and Johanna Konta both made the quarter-finals of the Guangzhou Open in China but Konta will consider that much more of a successful week.
Robson was seeded third and lost to Jie Zheng despite winning the first set 6-1 and leading in the second set breaker.
Robson, Britain’s top ranked lady, reached the final of this WTA International Event last year so will lose some ranking points.
Meanwhile Konta came through three round of qualifying and beat the fourth seed Shuai Peng en route to her first ever quarter-final at a WTA tour event.
She lost to Chinese wild card Shuai Zheng who went on to win the tournament without dropping a set.
There was more disappointment for Heather Watson who lost in round one of the KDB Korea Open in Seoul to Kimiko Date-Krumm.
She then looked to qualify for nest week’s Premier Event in Tokyo but lost in the second round of qualifying.
Watson has been searching for form since returning from glandular fever and will soon defend her HP Open title, and the vital ranking points, that she won in Osaka last year.
ATP World Tour this week
With the main Brits in Davis Cup action, representing on the World Tour fell to Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot this week.
London-born Inglot partnered Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin at the ATP250 St Petersburg Open and they had a great week on the Russian hard courts.
The pair were unseeded and beat second seeds Max Mirnyi and Horia Tecau in round one and received a walk over in the quarter-finals before defeating Russian duo Aslan Karatsev and Dmitry Tursunov in the semi.
They came up against top seeds David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco in the final who just too strong, winning 7-6(6) 6-3.
The Spaniards are the eighth ranked team so far this year and Verdasco was of course the man who came so close to beating Andy Murray in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon this year.
Jamie Murray has a less successful week as he and regular partner John Peers lost in the first round of the Moselle Open.
The pair were seeded third but had a tough draw, losing 6-4, 7-6(2)to Johan Brunstrom and Raven Klassen who went on to win the Moselle title.
It was another great week for the Ken and Neal Skupski who won the men’s doubles at the clay-court Pekao Szczecin Open in Poland.
Ken, a doubles veteran, seems to have formed a winning team with his little brother who has already risen from outside the top thousand to 144th in the doubles rankings this year.
We may be seeing the pair together on some ATP World Tour events very soon.
Brydan Klein could not quite match the Skupskis’ achievement as he and Australian partner Dane Propoggia reached the Izmir Cup final in Turkey but lost to second seeds Austin Krajicek and Tennys Sandgren.
Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur – ATP World Tour 250 -hard
Doubles: Dom Inglot reunites with regular partner, Filipino Tret Huey as fourth seeds but face a very tough opener against Andre Sa and Marcelo Melo.
Thailand Open, Bangkok – ATP World Tour 250 -hard
Doubles: Jamie Murray and John Peers will hope to return to form in Thailand. The third seeds will play Nicholas Monroe and Simon Stadler in round one.
Toray Pan Pacific Open, Tokyo – WTA Premier Event – hard
Singles: Laura Robson is not seeded and faces Japan’s Ayumi Morita in round one.
Yinzhou Bank Cup International Women’s Tennis Open, Ningbo, China – WTA 135k series – hard
Singles: Konta faces eighth seed Lauren Davis in round one.
Open d’Orleans, France –hard court
Doubles: Ken and Neal Skupski are third seeds and face fellow Brits David Rice and Sean Thornley in round one
Sibiu Open, Romania – clay
Doubles: Britain’s Jame Delgado and Aussie partner Jordan Kerr are second seeds.
Fergana Challenger, Uzbekistan – hard court
Singles: James Ward is second seed and faces world number 286 Alexander Kudryavtsev in round one.
Napa Valley Challenger, California – Hard
Singles: Daniel Evans returns to the North American hard courts where he has had so much success recently. He’s been unlucky though, missing out on a seeding by only a few ranking places and draws fifth seed Bradley Klahn in round one. Evans lost to the American in the Aptos final Challenger in Canada in August though had match points.
Daniel Cox and Edward Corrie are also in the singles draw.