Andy Murray accepts his fate as Great Britain’s Davis Cup team go for glory

Kevin Palmer
Andy Murray at the Davis Cup tie in Manchester
Andy Murray at the Davis Cup tie in Manchester

When Great Britain lifted the Davis Cup in 2015, it was Andy Murray who carried them to glory.

Yet roll the clock forward eight years and the former world No 1 is very much an onlooker as his nation pushes for more Davis Cup glory.

Great Britain is the host nation for this week’s Davis Cup Finals Group Stage matches in Manchester and while Murray got the biggest cheer as the teams were introduced to a big crowd at the AO Arena, his role now is very different.

Murray admitted after his US Open defeat against Grigor Dimitrov that he didn’t feel he justified a place in the British team, with Jack Draper, Dan Evans and Cameron Norrie also pushing to play in Leon Smith’s team.

After some reflection, he spoke to Britain’s captain and offered to pull out of the squad if he wasn’t needed.

“At that moment, straight as I came off the court, I wasn’t in a great place after losing in a Slam,” he said after his comments following his US Open exit.

“I said (to captain Leon Smith), if I’m not needed, I completely get that. But, for whatever reason, he asked me to come and I said I would come.

“I’ve always loved playing Davis Cup and any event where you’re competing for your country. We have a great group of guys, I love being part of this team, we’ve got great staff as well. Everyone gets on extremely well.

“I do genuinely believe the team can win the event. That’s a huge motivation to be a part of it. I want to help the team in any way I can, whether that’s on the court or off. We’ll see what happens.”

Those words were muttered by Murray prior to Britain’s match against Australia and captain Smith confirmed his sentiments as he picked Draper and Evans to play the singles matches in a high-quality contest against Australia.

Draper justified the faith shown in him by Great Britain captain Leon Smith by coming from behind to defeat Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis in a dramatic opening rubber in Manchester.

Draper’s run to the fourth round of the US Open earned him not just a second Great Britain call-up but a first appearance, with Smith picking him ahead of his top-ranked player Cameron Norrie and former world number one Andy Murray.

The Lawn Tennis Association reported ticket sales of more than 9,000 for the tie at the AO Arena and the crowd were treated to an exciting clash, with Draper breaking Kokkinakis when he served for the match before coming through a deciding tie-break to win 6-7 (6) 6-3 7-6 (4).

They were on their feet when Draper drilled a final backhand winner down the line after two hours and 52 minutes to give Britain the perfect start against last year’s finalists.

Speaking on court, Draper said: “There’s nothing better. It was a real battle, massive crowd in here. It’s amazing to play my first Davis Cup tie in the UK in this sort of arena. I’m just so happy to be here and grateful Leon trusted me and put me out here today.”

Evans then pulled off a fine win against Alex De Minaur to wrap up the tie, with Murray reduced to the role of bench-warming cheerleader from the sidelines.

Murray looked a little glum as he posed for photographs prior to the opening match in Manchester, yet this great champion could still have a role to play this week.

If nothing else, his aura and presence will be a huge boost to the British team as they look to reach the Finals in Malaga in November.

Murray may well be a future Davis Cup captain and while he may not enjoy watching from the sidelines, his experiences in Manchester this week may be a pointer to what is to come.

READ MORE: Andy Murray makes honest confession ahead of what could be a Davis Cup farewell