Henman and Murray find grass court feet

The Great Britain Davis Cup team took to the courts of the All England Club on Monday as preparations began in earnest for this weekend’s World Group play-off tie against Croatia, which gets underway on Friday September 21.

The tie will be played on the No.1 Court at Wimbledon, which has been re-seeded since the Championships finished 10 weeks ago.

Both teams were allowed to play on the court on Monday, with Croatia practising from 12 noon until 13:00 and Britain following suit an hour later.

“The court’s in great condition,” said Tim Henman, who practised with Andy Murray for the full hour after both warmed up separately on other courts beforehand.

“It feels a bit strange to be playing on grass this late in the year but historically it’s never taken me too long to adapt to my favourite surface and hopefully it won’t take me very long this time around either.

“The tie is definitely going to be a close one; you could argue strongly for either team winning any of the rubbers.

“But hopefully the fact that we’re playing on grass at home will prove to be decisive.”

British fans will be hoping that the good weather that South West England has enjoyed over the past few weeks continues, because should it rain the tie may have to be completed indoors.

“It would definitely be a disadvantage if we had to move indoors,” Murray told The Independent newspaper.

“They are big guys who hit the ball well and Ivan Ljubicic is among the best hard court players in the world.”

Should it rain over the weekend and the inclement weather continued into next week the tie could be moved to the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton.

“That would be a real shame,” explained Henman, who will retire after the tie. “Not only would it be tougher to win the match the logistics would be a nightmare for everybody.

“Hopefully the weather will hold and we can fill court Number One with fans that will get right behind us. If we can do that and get off to a decent start I think the fact that we will have such great support will make a real difference.

“It’s been a very exciting few days for me what with the birth of our third child, but having really enjoyed the weekend I’m starting to get my head around what needs to be done and by the time Friday rolls around I’ll be good to go.

“It’s an important tie, not only for me personally, but for British tennis as a whole.

“It’s a big ask to beat a country that won the competition a couple of years ago but I think if all of our team can stay healthy we can do it.”

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