Leon Smith feels Andy Murray’s experience and presence will be invaluable as the veteran returns to Great Britain’s Davis Cup team for the group stage of the competition in Glasgow next month.
The 35-year-old will play in the tournament for the first time since 2019 after being named alongside British number one Cameron Norrie, world number 23 Dan Evans and world doubles number one Joe Salisbury in the line-up for matches against the United States, Kazakhstan and the Netherlands at the Emirates Arena.
Although no longer at the peak of his powers after having to battle through various injury problems in recent years, Smith feels former world number one Murray – currently ranked 47 – can still bring plenty to the party.
“Andy wouldn’t want to be picked just on previous (form),” Smith told the PA news agency. “I think, importantly, he’s back in the world’s top 50, he’s fit and he’s healthy. For me, the chance to have Andy in and around the group, plus what the other players can get from him, is really important.
“We spoke many months ago about the Davis Cup and coming here, and he was desperate to be part of it. What he brings, whether it’s in a match itself or what he can do tactically to help the players prepare, is huge for us.
“Throughout his career, for any of our emerging players coming through, Andy takes them under his wing, invites them to training camps, watches their matches and is always there for them. If you ask any of the other players – Dan Evans, Cam Norrie or Joe Salisbury – the one player they still look up to is Andy.”
Although Murray remains the star attraction for supporters, Norrie – who reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon earlier this summer – is now Britain’s most prominent player, with the 26-year-old currently ranked 11th in the world.
“What Cam did at Wimbledon was exceptional, but more than that is what he’s done over the last few years to establish himself as a top player,” said Smith. “He keeps getting better and he is a Scotsman (Norrie’s father is from Glasgow), so he’s going to enjoy playing in front of a home crowd.”
Smith is encouraged by the depth of talent at his disposal, and he still has to add a fifth player to his team in the coming weeks.
“It was a difficult decision simply because we’ve got more players doing really good things on the main tour,” he said of his selection. “Winding back the clock several years it wasn’t like that, but now we’ve got more strength in depth across both the singles and doubles.
“It’s a much better situation to be in, but of course it makes it tough (picking the team). We’ve still got a fifth player to add and we’ll see how the next few weeks go.”
Jack Draper, 20, who has surged from outside the top 250 to 55 in the rankings this season, and doubles specialist Neal Skupski, 32, are among the contenders for the fifth berth.
“Yes, for sure, they’re both very good players,” said Smith.
“Jack has had a great summer and Neal won the title in Montreal and is sitting about number four in the world, and we’ve still got the likes of Jamie Murray as well, who obviously brings a huge amount of experience and talent. Across the whole group, it’s a really good situation to be in.”
The latest incarnation of the Davis Cup involves four cities hosting groups of four teams each, with the top two in each pool progressing to a last-eight shoot-out in Malaga in November. Britain play their matches on September 14, 16 and 18.
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