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Brittle Bogdanovic seals British defeat

Davis Cup
by Tom Fordyce (U2883712) 21 September 2008
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It probably isn’t what Alex Bogdanovic wants to hear after his predictable capitulation to Alexander Peya, but did the result really matter for British tennis?

On the surface, GB’s defeat by Austria was calamitous – a return to the dreary reality of ties against Macedonia and Belarus, an immediate future scrapping in tennis’s basement while the glamour boys live it up in the sunshine elsewhere.

Beyond the reactionary doom and gloom, however, does it actually make much difference?

The good things that have happened to British tennis this year – Andy Murray’s US Open performance and rise to world no.4, Laura Robson’s triumph in the Wimbledon girls’ tournament, the £30m sponsorship deal between the LTA and Aegon – are untarnished by Davis Cup defeat.

Murray himself was genuinely pumped during his singles victory over Jurgen Melzer, but set in the context of the year he’s just had, the team’s defeat will have meant comparatively little.

Part of his pleasure in seeing off Melzer seemed to spring from personal animosity with his opponent, and the additional strain on his knees caused by having to switch from hard court to grass for this tie was clearly far from welcome.

Tellingly, in the final three sets of Bogdanovic’s decider, Murray was nowhere to be seen.

His seat court-side remained empty at the key time in the entire tie, and while there may have been a rock-solid reason we don’t know about, the symbolism was unavoidable.

For the LTA, unlike the majority of national tennis federations, the Davis Cup is not a key money-spinner. Thanks to the Wimbledon bonanza, British tennis has never had a problem with cash – it’s knowing what to do with it that’s the issue.

What about national pride? The 9,000 or so thunderstick-bashing fans who half-filled Number One Court clearly cared, but it’s debatable how representative those partisans are of the general sporting public.

To the average British sports fan, there was only one international team competition that counted this weekend, and it involved Boo and Poulter, not Bogdanovic and Peya.

Success has to begin somewhere, no matter how small and weak the initial shoots of recovery might be. By that margin the last three days represented a missed opportunity.

At the same time, this was an undisputedly fair result.

Davis Cup teams cannot be built around a single player, no matter how much he’s improved over the last six months.

Say what you like about captain John Lloyd’s doubles selection on Saturday (and the relative freshness of Murray and Melzer in Sunday’s singles was vindication enough for some) but you cannot hide three weak links in a team of four.

Jamie Murray had a stinker. Ross Hutchins is not a world group player, and Bogdanovic – well, Bogdanovic is no-one’s idea of a man for a crisis.

And if you can’t beat Austria, do you really deserve to be in the elite group of tennis nations?

Even had Bogdanovic and Britain pulled off a heroic win, the path ahead was hardly paved with gold. Where do you go with only one player ranked in the world’s top 100?

Perhaps the biggest shame is the lost opportunity to blood young players in top-level competition against the best players in the world. Both Murray brothers benefited from early exposure in the Davis Cup, but a tyro is likely to learn less about himself and what it takes when he’s toiling in the Euro-Africa zone.

For Bogdanovic, his defeat on Sunday was a perfect summary of his career.

In the first set he hit some fine shots, dominated Peya and looked in control. Midway through the second, the error count gradually began to climb, letting Peya back into the match.

As always with Bogdanovic, once the slump had started, there was no turning back. In the fourth set, he was broken three times.

Then again, what else did anyone really expect?

Latest 10 comments

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comment by DR1961 (U9376490)

posted Sep 23, 2008

I hope that John Lloyd learns a lesson from this - Boggo isn't and more importantly never will good enough. He has not got the mental strength to play in these matches and at 24 never will have. He can spend 8 hours a day on court but it will not make any difference.

We would be far better to throw in a young wild card with potential even though they may not have the experience/ranking. At least he might learn.

Boggo is very experienced - at losing important matches!

He's had more than his chance now and we need to move on!

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posted Sep 24, 2008

Still you have not won much though... not even the US Open... he was crashed... but keep the faith

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posted Sep 24, 2008

I wanted to be at the Davis Cup matches last weekend but the cost of travel-hotel-availability of tickets were almost the same as going on holiday for two weeks.

I agree that you cannot build a Davis Cup team around one player. Perhaps the LTA should now use some of the sponsorship money they were so anxious to tell the public about to help up-and-coming stars and not on the players who have benefited for years and not produced the results.

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posted Sep 25, 2008

Last Saturday I went to Wimbledon and saw the doubles. At the age of 43, it was the first time EVER(!!) that I'd been to Wimbledon. I actually found it quite inspiring: all those people and landmarks that I've seen so many times on TV, now I was in the middle of them; there was a good show at the start: singing (although funnily enough the only people singing DURING the match were the Austrians!), firing various interesting things into the crowd - a few juniors did some training. They gave the ball an impressive biff, and it sometimes went in the right place. I was actually surprised by how MANY spectators there were - enough for an atmosphere, not quite enough for real cameraderie.

I agree with Andy Murray and others - the British crowd, however big or small, MUST do what they can to gee up and encourage our players. There was quite a bit of noise at the start; but as the match wore on, and it became clear that Jamie Murray and Ross Hutchins were going to lose, the crowd became very quiet.

My only real disappointment was the performance of the British pair! I know they're both good doubles players, with immense potential, so we can assume they just had an off-day: persevere with them, and surely they'll improve.

One thing is without doubt: in Andy Murray we now have an experienced, world-class singles player. Thankfully, he seems loyal enough to GB even to turn out against Ukraine, who have nobody in the top 50. We should back him up, encourage him as much as possible - and listen to him!

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posted Sep 25, 2008

Andy murray plays for himself only. Full stop. Andy Murray blames everyone else for his failures or rubs his knee to show it hurts. Poor whimp. He should grow up and support British (not Scottish) Tennis and repay some of the money spent on him.
-----------------------------------------------

What a load of Bull. He does play for himself on the main tour as does everyone. When Fed won SW19 5 times he was not doing it for Helga in Hungary.
When it comes to Davis Cup Murray plays for Britain and gives it his all. If you had watched the tie you would see we lost 3-2 and who got both are points (Andy Murray). He is let down every time by the rest of the British team and yet he continues to participate. Not for himself since he gets nothing out of it. But for the nation he represents.
As to the tantrums. It sounds like you have not watched him for a year at least since I rarely see it or an outburst these days.

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posted Sep 25, 2008

jackhigh........

Thank you for sharing......!!!
Why don't you just say what you really think. don't hold back!!

Andy M. hits a nerve eh?
He's the best tennis player we've had on our shores for more than your lifetime......... get used to it!!

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comment by DR1961 (U9376490)

posted Sep 26, 2008

I agree that Andy is by far the best player we have at present but is still at the POTENTIAL stage.

Don't forget that Greg Rusedski also reached the US Open Final and won numerous titles and Tim Henman was in the top 10 for 4 or 5 years.

Andy is probably much better than they were at the same age but until he goes one better and wins a slam it is over the top to say he is the best player we have had in anyones lifetime (except those born since 2005 which marked the beginning of Henman's decline!).

His progress has been very good in recent months but there are two exceptional players and one very good player in his way at present.

It is very unlikely that Andy will be playing to the level he his now with his style of game (take Hewitt as an example) which means he realistically has a window of 4/5 years to win a slam. Although Henman and Rusedski started later their serve volley game short rally game was less severe on their bodies enabling them to play into their late 20's early 30's.

Andy has put himself in a great position for next year but its time to deliver and like all top seeds will be a "target" for lower ranked players. Only the best can consistently live with this pressure and deliver and we wish him all the best!

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posted Sep 26, 2008

With respect Dr1961, none of that makes a great deal of sense. Murray is clearly more talented than either Rusedski or Henman, and has already equalled or exceeded their main achievements in quality if not (yet) quantity.

His game is not that severe on his body. I think you are maybe conflating Federer's rather sour comments after his defeat to Andy in Dubai and the oft cited wear and tear that Nadal puts on his body with his game.

Federer has a track record of being a bit grumpy after an unexpected loss so I think that can be discounted.

Nadal's game is n degrees more punishing than Murray's. Nadal's rallying style is to play a large number of shots, each one with a huge amount of power involved. Murray simply doesn't hit like that, and moves much more smoothly around the court. Arguably the physical nature of his game is more similar to Federer than Nadal. As people used to say about Graf, Andy is just a natural athlete. Recall Michael Johnson's approving comments when he joined him for some sprint training a couple of years back.

If you asked either Henman or Rusedski whether Andy is a better player than they were then I think both would readily admit that he is. Rusedski after all did say before the US Open final that he thought Murray would "go one better" than he did and win it.

Mind you he was wrong. This time smiley.

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posted Sep 26, 2008

You might not like Andy Murray, but he's a winner; remember McEnroe,Connors etc they started in just the same vein.

Bogdanovic has had his day, he should stepaside and give the kids a chance.

I listened to Pat Cash commentating on the match what absolute plonker! He's going on about tennis in the public parks should be free for kids. He clearly doesn't know what he's talking about in my part of Lancashire it is FREE and their are NO kids playing. Inmost public parks in the country the courts don't exist.

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comment by PPCC36 (U12565786)

posted Sep 29, 2008

when was Bogdanovic's day?

I missed that.

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