Proud dad Murray ready to lead Davis Cup title defence

LONDON: Andy Murray insists he is fully focused on leading Great Britain in their Davis Cup title defence against Japan after spending several weeks as a doting dad.

Murray has left wife Kim and three-week-old daughter Sophia at home in Surrey for the first-round tie in Birmingham, which begins on Friday.

The 28-year-old’s last competitive appearance was a fifth Australian Open final defeat by Novak Djokovic at the end of January, after which he ran out of Melbourne Park to catch the first flight home.

“It was very different to what I expected,” Murray told reporters on Wednesday as he reflected on his first few weeks as a new father.

“It’s an amazing experience but it’s also difficult to see someone you care about go through that.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be like in the movies or on the TV. You see the last 20 seconds, you don’t see everything that goes on beforehand.

“I still practice hard and do all the same things I was doing before. I will find out if it is different on Friday or not. But it can only be a positive thing.”

Murray arrives back on the tennis circuit well rested because he has yet to experience the sleep deprivation that many new parents suffer.

“She (Sophia) has been sleeping very well the first few weeks. Without getting particularly graphic, there’s nothing much I can do,” Murray said.

“She is waking up because she wants to be fed and unfortunately my body doesn’t produce any milk. I can’t help too much there.

“In the night I would stay up with her as late as is needed while Kim was asleep.”

– Family commitments –

=Murray will hope becoming a father has the same effect on him as it has on Djokovic, who has been in sublime form since the birth of his son Stefan 16 months ago.

He will get his first taste of how things will play out on Friday, when he takes on Japan number two Taro Daniel in Britain’s first tie since they defeated Belgium in November to win the Davis Cup for the first time in 79 years.

“I don’t see it being negative at all, in terms of my career. And it is not the end of the world if it is as I now have something more important,” Murray said.

With his extra family commitments, it would not have been surprising had Murray opted against playing in the Davis Cup this year.

But he revealed he is planning to play in all Britain’s ties this year, including a potential quarter-final against Serbia in July, sandwiched between Wimbledon and the Olympics.

Murray, who confirmed he has appointed former British player Jamie Delgado as his assistant coach, said: “If I’m fit I will play for sure against Serbia or Kazakhstan.”

Before Murray can worry about his future schedule, he has to see off Japan and that tie could come down to a clash against world number six Kei Nishikori, the highest-ranked player he has ever faced in the competition, in the reverse singles on Sunday.

Nishikori, who has lost five of his six matches against Murray, is not taking much comfort from the Scot’s lay-off, saying: “He did great in Australia so it’s not like he hasn’t played for a long time, so it’s not going to change much.

“(Britain) just won the Davis Cup and they have one of the best teams with Andy and his brother. It’s not going to be easy for us but we have a chance. It’s a great challenge.”