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:

Read More

British Davis Cup team

Andy Murray had to battle fatigue and pressure, but he was the home hero once again as he beat Gilles Simon 4-6 7-6 6-3 6-0 and sent Britain to the Davis Cup semifinals for the first time in 34 years! An impressive performance by Andy Murray who won both his singles matches and the doubles with his brother Jamie. But it is once again a big disillusion for the French team after last year’s loss to the Swiss.

Murray and co will next face Australians who came back from 0-2 down to defeat Kazakhstan. The tie should be held at Wimbledon or at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow.

Andy Murray and Gilles Simon

Gilles Simon

British fan
Read More

British Davis Cup team

Led by local hero Andy Murray, Great Britain have reached Davis Cup semi-finals for first time in 34 years. They’ll next face Australia, who beat Kazakhstan, in September.
Read this interview of Leon Smith, in which he tells how he became team GB Davis Cup captain, and his years as Andy Murray’s coach:

Interview by l’Equipe, July 2015, translation by Tennis Buzz:

Q: Who are you Leon Smith, what is your background?

My background is not conventional, it’s not the story that everyone knows, the former good player who becomes coach. I was a very average player in Scotland. I still live in Scotland, Edinburgh. I played at British level in juniors (he never played on any professional circuit) but I soon realized that I won’t make it. I went back to school. I finished my studies. Without a degree, I must admit (laughs). And so, I started coaching, at 17.

Q: At 17? But it’s too young…

I started as a coach club, then regional coach. At that time I was in Glasgow, Scotland. Rain, cold, snow, and so on. Great years (laughs). I cleaned the courts myself, I had to earn money. Then, fortunately, I coached some of the best Scottish juniors. I was friends with Judy Murray, and one day, when I was about twenty one, she asked

“Would you like to go to Stirling to hit with my son. He is 11.”

Judy was national coach in Scotland at the time. She thought her son needed someone else than Mom to train him. Someone to accompany him during tournaments. This son was Andy.

So you were one of the first coaches of Andy Murray?

Yes, from age 12 to 17. Even when he left for Spain, for the Sanchez Casal Academy, I was still working with him. We stopped just after his victory at the US Open juniors (in 2004). I was with him when he won the Orange Bowl (12 years and under, in 1999). This was my first trip with him; in Miami, during four weeks, we learned to know each other. I was his coach but I was also doing his laundry, I washed his socks, I prepared his meals… After Andy, I did not do anything for a few months before accepting my first job at the LTA (the British Federation). I had to supervise coaches and players in Scotland. And I had the responsibility of the British under 14. Then I worked with juniors. It was great because in 2005-2006, there were people like Paul Annacone (former coach among others of Pete Sampras, Tim Henman, Roger Federer…) working for the LTA. I spent a lot of time with Paul and learned a lot.

But how did you become Davis Cup captain?

In 2010, John Lloyd had just finished his term as captain. And then I got a phone call from one of the LTA bosses.

“Would you be the next captain?” They told me. “Hmm, me?”, I replied. It seemed super weird and I hung up, saying, “No thank you. You should find someone else.”

I even gave them a list of names. But then insisted (laughs). I accepted, knowing people would cringe. I would be criticized for months. I was ready for that.

Have you been criticized as you expected it?

Yes. The first two weeks, it’s been difficult. I remember one day I was driving and my father called to ask me: “Are you okay? Do you feel good?” As I did not understand why he asked me this, he said, “You, you did not read the papers. You better take a look.” I did. And it was embarassing.

“How could they get this guy? He has never coached at a high level, never played at a high level.”

But they were right! It was up to me to show what I was capable of. I started travelling. I went everywhere with Andy of course, but also on the Challenger tour with James Ward and Daniel Evans, where I served as their coach because they had no money to pay one. I took young coaches with me and we all grew up together.

In 2010, you start against Turkey

We were in Third Division. No matter against which team you win, you win and things take shape. We beat Turkey, Tunisia, Luxembourg and Hungary to reach Division Two. In 2012, we missed the lift to the World Group against Belgium, but not the following year against the Russians, without Andy. Suddenly people took us seriously. When we played Tunisia in Bolton in 2010, there was no TV broadcast of the tie. To debrief the match I had one amateur video. Today, interest in the Davis Cup is undeniable.

The involvment of Andy Murray had to play a lot…

Of course, he is really concerned. His dedication drives the other players but also the entire nation. We are a united team. We dine quite often together, we were almost all at Andy’s wedding (in April). He is also the first to encourage his teammates. At Roland Garros he came in the stands to support Kyle Edmund in the qualifyings and in the first round.

Jamie and Andy Murray

The Murray brothers fought back from a set down to beat Nicolas Mahut and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 4-6 6-3 7-6 6-1. It was another strange choice by French Davis Cup captain Arnaud Clément to select Mahut and Tsonga who had never played together before, whereas Tsonga and Gasquet are undefeated in Davis Cup. Or why not select Herbert and Mahut who play regularly on the tour together and were finalists at the Australian Open earlier in the year.

Jamie Murray:

“To go out there, play with your brother for your country and to have Leon on the bench who has been a big part of our tennis careers from a young age, it was really special. It was a magic day. Hopefully it puts us in a good position for tomorrow and we will do our best to try to get to three points.”

Andy Murray is expected to win over Gilles Simon (or Richard Gasquet?) and propel Great Britain into the Davis Cup semifinals for the first time in 34 years.

France Davis Cup team

British Davis Cup team

Andy and Jamie Murray vs Tsonga and Mahut
Read More

Andy Murray

Following James Ward loss to Gilles Simon earlier in the day, this match was a must-win for Andy Murray.

For whatever reason French Davis Cup captain Arnaud Clément decided to sit recent Wimbledon semifinalist Richard Gasquet for day 1, and after two tight sets, Murray beat Tsonga quite comfortably 7-5 7-6(10) 6-2 and drew level with France at 1-1.

Andy Murray:

The crowd was great, especially at the important moments. I was happy with the job that I did today. I don’t feel like I played amazing, but I played some good shots at important times

Saturday’s doubles rubber will be crucial: Dominic Inglot and Jamie Murray will take on Richard Gasquet and Nicolas Mahut.

Murray fans

Andy Murray
Read More

Andy Murray at practice, Wimbledon 2015

Thanks to Simon for sharing his pictures of Andy Murray at practice with coach Amélie Mauresmo:

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

Andy Murray
Read More