By Ros Satar at the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid

  • Andy Murray: Wait for event to finish before giving it a fair view after big changes
  • Jamie Murray: Doubles important in group stages, could be pivotal later
MADRID, SPAIN – Andy Murray suggests critics of the new format Davis Cup let the format play out on the eve of GB’s opening campaign.

 

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As the new Davis Cup format gets underway, with admittedly mixed levels of crowds so far, the British team look forward to getting underway against the Netherlands on Wednesday morning.

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With Gerard Pique and his business Kosmos planning on transforming the Davis Cup into what they feel is a proper World Cup of Tennis, they have fielded a great deal of criticism about the changes, but with the tournament now underway, Andy Murray felt people need to let it play out for the first year, and then assess.

He said, in the team press conference: “Generally people have been quite sceptical about the new format. Which is fine, you know, because like I said, it is a big change and I had my reservations about it. But I just feel it’s fair to give the new event a chance to play itself out and see how it is at the end of the week.

“I would just say, only from my perspective, I think it’s been very well run so far. It’s been very easy for all of the players. The one concern I had, and have, is the atmosphere in the matches in comparison to what we were used to in Davis Cup ties. And until we’ve competed in a few matches here and felt that atmosphere and stuff, I can’t say for sure what that’s going to be like.

“But the week so far has been good and enjoyable. And I think there were some great matches yesterday as well and some nice atmospheres, too. Yes, it’s not one player or one person in the media or a pundit or whatever, it is just I think generally, you know, people have been fairly negative about the new concepts.

“I just feel in tennis sometimes we are quite reluctant to make changes, and this is a big change. I feel like we should give it an opportunity to see how it goes.”

With regards to the format, with the cut-down rubbers from five to three, the doubles players have a chance to push for points for quarter-final qualification in the group stages as every element counts if teams find themselves challenging for the two best second-place placings.

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But once the competition moves to the knock-out stages, then should Britain win their two singles matches, the doubles would be not get played – or if live could be the tie winner.

Jamie Murray said: “In the group stages every rubber counts, but obviously in the knockouts, if it’s 2-0 after singles, then the doubles doesn’t get played; but if it’s live, then it’s going to be the match that the tie. So, I guess it works both ways.

“Obviously, the previous format it always counted and was always a pivotal rubber in the tie. But we’ll just have to wait and see. I mean, for us, it’s cool to get the opportunity to potentially play those deciding matches and, you know, doubles be the discipline that’s deciding whether who goes home with the Davis Cup trophy or not.”

Apart from trying to sneak in lines from Frozen’s thematic ‘Let It Go’ as part of the press conference, the team looked relaxed ahead of their opening tie against Netherlands. Dan Evans and Kyle Edmund will battle between them to play as the British No. 1 string in the second match of the day, while Murray prepares to take on the weaker strings in the opening matches.

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Team captain Leon Smith feels it neither helps nor hinders Great Britain, even if the other countries in the group see Great Britain as the obvious favourites to top the group and advance to the quarter-final stages.

READ MORE | Tennis | Davis Cup Finals 2019 | Group team Captains wary of Murray’s inclusion in the team

Smith said: “That’s not the way I would view it. As Andy said, we’ve got really good quality in the three singles players that we’ve got. And whoever goes out to play gives us a good shot.

“Obviously it was a difficult decision coming here as well because we have good quality players that didn’t even make the squad. So, I don’t view it that way at all. The way the format of the competition means that it could be an advantage in other ways as well.”

However, Murray (junior) might be coming off the near-miraculous Antwerp win but still the prospect of potentially playing five days in a row, and maybe being called upon for doubles, reuniting with brother Jamie, leads to a pause for thought.

He said: “If I was asked to play, then yeah, I would do it. There’s a difference between playing a final maybe or a quarterfinal potentially is a difference because, I don’t know, you have to think maybe at the beginning of the event slightly differently than if you’re in the final as well, you know.

“But I guess we’ll see what happens when we’re out there. The length of matches as well is important, too. You play an hour-long match, it is very different to playing three hours, and how you recover from that. So, there’s a lot of factors there, but I mean, if that’s what Leon wanted ultimately, then I’d do it.”

GB play Netherlands in their first group match, starting at 11am (10am GMT).

 

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How to watch the Davis Cup Finals

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Monday 18 November 3pm – 9pm
  Tuesday 19-Saturday 23 November 10am – 11pm
  Sunday 24 November 3pm – 9pm

 

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