Andy Murray at Sanchez Casal Academy

Belgium chose to play the upcoming Davis Cup final on clay, Andy Murray‘s “worst” surface. Clay doesn’t really suit Belgian players David Goffin and Steve Darcis, but they probably think this surface is their best chance of beating Murray.

Even though the world number 3 has only won his first two titles on clay this year, he is a 3-time Roland Garros semifinalist (he lost to Rafael Nadal in 2011 and 2014, and to Novak Djokovic this year) and has spent 3 years training at the Sanchez Casal Academy in Barcelona.

In 2002, aged 15, he left Scotland for Spain. He had made the decision to train abroad the previous year, after a discussion with Rafael Nadal, who had been telling him about his four-hour-a-day hitting sessions in the heat of Majorca and his practices with former world number 1 Carlos Moya. Andy was then practicing only about 4 hours a week.

At the Academy, under the tutelage of tennis guru Pato Alvarez, he learned how to play on clay, and when he could attack. The Sanchez‐Casal system that splits the court into 3 zones: defence, transition and attack, improved Murray’s patience and movement.

Murray partied with Alvarez in 2005, he explained at the time that Alvarez wanted him to be less aggressive and play like the Spanish players, and that’s not the way he plays.

A few pictures taken at the Sanchez Casal Academy in November 2004, two months after Andy’s US Open junior title.

Andy Murray and Pato Alvarez

Andy Murray and Pato Alvarez
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Andy Murray

Andy Murray seals the tie for Great Britain with a 7-5 6-3 6-2 win over Bernard Tomic. The British team reaches the Davis Cup final for the first time since 1978!
Back then, in his debut as a singles player, John McEnroe led USA to its first victory in the Davis Cup finals since 1972. He defeated John Lloyd and Buster Mottram, surrendering fewer games in his two matches (10) than any other man since the competition began in 1900.

In the other semifinal, Belgium came back from the brink of elimination to beat Argentina in the fifth rubber. The venue for the Davis Cup final – hosted by Belgium – will be confirmed by September 28th.

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

Andy Murray
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Jamie and Andy Murray

That’s how former British number 1 now Eurosport commentator Annabel Croft described Andy and Jamie Murray‘s thrilling victory over Sam Groth and Lleyton Hewitt:

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Andy Murray

Andy Murray dispatched young gun Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-3 6-0 6-3 to give the first point to Great Britain. Bernard Tomic then levelled after a hard-fought 4-sets win over world number 300 Dan Evans. As often in the Davis Cup, the doubles match will be crucial!

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Andy Murray and Jonas Bjorkman

Andy Murray, beaten by Kevin Anderson in the fourth round:

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

Andy Murray
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British Davis Cup team

What a memorable Davis Cup weekend, with some massive performances by Andy Murray and Lleyton Hewitt.

Great Britain – France: 3-1

Gilles Simon defeats James Ward 6-4 6-4 6-1
Andy Murray defeats Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-5 7-6 6-2
Andy and Jamie Murray defeat Nicolas Mahut/Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 4-6 6-3 7-6 6-1
Andy Murray defeats Gilles Simon 4-6 7-6 6-3 6-0

One more disillusion for the French team after their defeat in the final last year. Despite 3 top 20 players in their team (Simon, Tsonga and Gasquet), they could not beat Team GB at Queen’s club this weekend. Andy Murray won three matches in as many days to propel Great Britain into the Davis Cup semifinals for the first time in 34 years.

Australia – Kazakhstan: 3-2

Mikhail Kukushkin defeats Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-4 6-3 6-3
Aleksander Nedovyesov defeats Nick Kyrgios 7-6 6-7 7-6 6-4
Sam Groth/Lleyton Hewitt defeat Andrey Golubev/Aleksander Nedovyesov 6-4 7-6 6-2
Sam Groth defeats Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3 7-6 4-6 7-6
Lleyton Hewitt defeats Aleksander Nedovyesov 7-6 6-2 6-3

Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios were respectively 3 and 4 when Lleyton Hewitt played his first Davis Cup match back in 1999. And this weekend the soon-to-retire showed them how the job has to be done. After the surprising defeats of the young guns, Groth and Hewitt won the doubles on Saturday, and on Sunday Sam Groth levelled the tie against Mikhail Kukushkin. Hewitt then defeated Nedovyesov in straight sets to complete Australia’s first 0-2 comeback since 1939.

The Emirates Arena in Glasgow is the favourite to host the much anticipated semi-final clash between Great Britain and Australia, that will meet for the 13th time, with the Aussies leading 8-4 and having won the last three.

Andy Murray and Lleyton Hewitt are ready to rumble:

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