Leon Smith insists he won’t be pressured into picking Andy Murray in his Davis Cup team — and could yet omit him from a homecoming to Scotland.
Great Britain is one of four host nations for this year’s group stages, with Glasgow’s Emirates Arena the venue for the Group D ties against the USA, Kazakhstan and the Netherlands between September 13-18.
Murray crashed out of Wimbledon in the second round on Wednesday after losing to big-serving American John Isner on Centre Court.
A dejected Murray recuperates following his tough third-round Wimbledon loss to John Isner
Murray (second right) helped Great Britain win the Davis Cup in 2015 in Ghent, Belgium
The 35-year-old, who was inspirational when Britain won the Davis Cup in 2015, sustained an abdominal injury at the Stuttgart Open last month in the build-up to SW19 and has spoken of the need to improve his ranking so he can be seeded for the US Open.
Currently No 52 in the world, Murray faces a continuing fitness battle, having undergone hip resurfacing surgery in 2019, as he now looks ahead to the last Grand Slam of the year in New York and the Davis Cup.
With Cam Norrie and Dan Evans ahead of him in the rankings, and Jack Draper, Liam Broady and Ryan Peniston all doing as well if not better than Murray at this year’s All-England Club championships, GB team captain Smith may have some difficult choices to make.
A former coach of Murray, Smith is all too aware of how inspirational a figure the three-time major champion remains, but has vowed to pick form over friendship when he selects his players in Glasgow.
‘As captain, I look at the make-up of the team compared to when I started 12 years ago and it’s completely different,’ said the 46-year-old Scot.
Great Britain’s Davis Cup captain Leon Smith (left) could leave Murray (right) out of his team
‘(It’s not just the) problem and difficult decision around who gets to play on each match-day — in the two singles and the doubles — even just picking the squad takes a lot of thought.
‘I’ve got relationships in varying ways with all of the players. I go a long way back with Andy, in particular, but my job is to look at it objectively and to do whatever I can to win.
‘You pick on merit. You pick on a multitude of factors — form, match-ups against the opposition, surface, fitness, health… everything goes into it.
‘All I know is that it’s a good problem to have that we’ve got such a high calibre of player across both the singles and doubles.
‘Andy played a pivotal role in giving everyone hope that something was possible. He didn’t just do it on the court — winning major titles — he also gave back a lot.
‘That’s something with the culture that you want the others to do. I’m really pleased to see that culture is there.
‘What Andy sparked is really important and we now have this nucleus. Is it the strongest squad? If you look at the ranking breakdown of all the singles and doubles, yeah, it definitely will be.’
Smith knows a Scottish crowd will be desperate to see the country’s greatest-ever sportsman compete on a home court.
Glasgow hosted Davis Cup ties seven years ago as Murray and older brother Jamie helped Britain lift the trophy for the first time since 1936.
The former World No 1 could miss out on the chance to play in his home country of Scotland
‘I’ve got massively fond memories of what happened in Glasgow,’ said Smith. ‘The atmosphere created there was very special. That was ramped up with the fact we had Andy and Jamie playing those ties, obviously.
‘Regardless of who goes out there, I know the atmosphere is going to be great, whether it’s Andy or Cam Norrie, who has a Scottish background as well.
‘Dan Evans has been brilliant through Davis Cup years. We’ve got the No 1 player in the world in doubles, Joe Salisbury. We’ve got Neal Skupski, Jamie — a multiple Grand Slammer.
‘Whatever happens, and whoever goes out there — not just for our team, but others in the group — the fans are going to see some unbelievable tennis.’
Each nation plays each other three times, with the top two advancing to a knockout competition in November. Bologna, Hamburg and Malaga will host the other group matches.
Leon Smith was speaking as the Davis Cup by Rakuten visited his former tennis club Clarkston in Glasgow yesterday. Tickets for the Group Stage at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow between 13-18 September, are available now at: http://daviscupfinals.lta.org.uk/