Just three weeks out from the biggest event for 37 years in British men’s team history, Andy Murray may have established a crucial psychological advantage over one of his likely Davis Cup final opponents. The manner in which the current world number three ruthlessly ended the hopes of Belgium’s David Goffin at the Paris Masters 6-1 6-0, bodes well for a first GB victory since 1936 at the ultimate men’s #Tennis team event later this month.
Tough schedule for Murray
With Murray expected to play three matches in Ghent from 27-29th November, his standing in the game was already a formidable obstacle for the Belgians to overcome. Should Murray pick up points in all three rubbers then Britain will win. After making a mockery of the apparent difference between the two top ranked players for each nation in their third round match (Goffin was seeded 16), Britain’s favourite tag was fully endorsed in Paris.
Demoralising defeat for Belgian number one
It was a demoralising defeat for Goffin who has now lost both of his meetings against Murray. Even allowing for the fact that the Davis Cup final will be played on Belgian clay in front of a partisan crowd, the seeds of doubt will surely be firmly planted in his mind when they renew their acquaintance on court.
The only minor blot on an otherwise near flawless master-class of clinical play was that Murray lost a game at all. Such was his dominance throughout, he did admirably well to avoid complacency drifting into his game and to finish the 'contest' off so quickly.
O2 event a ‘distraction’
Murray still has the World Tour Finals at the O2 to come before he can focus fully on Ghent. That now represents something of an unwanted distraction from his affirmed main target for the rest of the year, winning the Davis Cup with Britain. Some may argue that it is events such as the highly lucrative finals in London that Murray strives to do well in. That is a fair point but he has a chance to make yet more British tennis history this season in Belgium and that is clearly occupying much of his current thought process.
The event at the O2 is likely to pose something of a dilemma for Murray, positioned as it is the week before the Ghent showdown. He will presumably look to finish his matches off (win or lose) quickly to conserve his energy. That could prove to be Murray's best approach anyway, as his best results against the top seeds have usually occurred when he takes the initiative and plays aggressively. Federer and Djokovic are classic exponents of old of taking advantage of passive opposition themselves.
Limited time on clay
Murray’s chances to re-attune himself with the idiosyncrasies of clay look to be limited. Emotionally and physically it could prove to be a firm test of his undoubted inner strength, although he has risen to the challenge already this campaign against both the French and Australians. Conversely, Goffin will not feature in London so should be well rested for the Davis Cup encounter and will have had additional time to fine tune his own game.
Bedene’s late appeal
Intriguingly, Leon Smith’s British squad may yet welcome the current British number two, Slovenian-born Aljaz Bedene into their fold for the Davis Cup final. Although currently ineligible to play for his adopted country (due to playing for his birth country in the past), he has an appeal scheduled in for November 16/17 in Prague. Bedene has British citizenship and has lived in the country for over seven years. His form in Paris was encouraging, where he defeated Marcel Granollers to reach the second round and with it is expected to improve his world ranking into the top fifty.
Although Smith has not shied away from making tough choices in the past, he already has James Ward, Kyle Edmund and Dan Evans in contention for the second singles place in the team. To instead choose Bedene if he suddenly became available would be a brave call. However, in this Davis Cup run bravery is something that Britain have not be short of. #Celebrities #Show