‘The great thing about Andy is he hasn’t changed – he’s au­then­tic’


MARK PETCHEY has tales about the teenage Andy Mur­ray that might make your toes curl. Like the time the Scot was sit­ting in a rental car on a grid­locked New York street, cheer­fully pamp­ing the horn at all and sundry, leav­ing his coach fret­ting that the NYPD might stage an in­ter­ven­tion. Or how about the evening the uber-com­pet­i­tive young­ster spent all night in an up­stairs room in Petchey’s house, fu­ri­ously bat­tling away to beat his daugh­ter’s record on chil­dren’s toy Bop-It.

So it is some­how counter-in­tu­itive when the Scot’s for­mer coach and Sky Sports pun­dit re­veals that one of the best things about his for­mer pupil is how lit­tle he has changed in the decade since he used to chap­er­one him around the globe.

“He’s slightly less an­noy­ing than the guy who was press­ing my horn in the mid­dle of New York, with me wor­ry­ing about us get­ting shot,” says Petchey. “But gen­uinely one of the most beau­ti­ful things about him is he hasn’t changed as a per­son. He’s ob­vi­ously changed as a player, he’s be­come so phys­i­cally dom­i­nat­ing on court. But the one thing that hasn’t changed is that he’s so au­then­tic. What you see is what you get, love him or hate him. That says a lot about him.

“He got a lot (of money) quite young,” the English­man added. “That can really tilt your moral val­ues. But as well as be­ing au­then­tic, he’s con­sis­tent. He treats you the same all the time. Whether he’s com­pet­ing at Wim­ble­don or on an off-week, he’s the same off the court.”

Hav­ing over­seen Mur­ray’s big break­through at Wim­ble­don ten years ago, Petchey left his job at the LTA to work with him full time, their year to­gether see­ing him break into the top 50. Since then, of course, the Mur­ray leg­end has been built on the back of two grand slam wins and an Olympic gold, but with ev­ery­thing, in­di­vid­u­ally and col­lec­tively, that is rid­ing on it, Petchey reck­ons that bring­ing the Davis Cup back to Bri­tain this week­end or the first time since 1936 might just top the lot.

“I said to Leon [Smith] af­ter the Queens’ tie that his win against [Gilles] Si­mon, af­ter what he’d been through at Wim­ble­don with all the pres­sure that’s put on him, was ar­guably the best Bri­tish per­for­mance of the year,” said Petchey. “It’s very easy to get lost in the fact that Andy’s ranked No.2 in the world and he should beat th­ese guys. But to know that if you lose that match and you’ve lost the tie, your dream, and to come back from that po­si­tion, was in­cred­i­ble to me. If they win the Davis Cup Fi­nal it will be one of the great­est achieve­ments of his ca­reer – if not the great­est, with all the dif­fer­ent pres­sures.”

Ev­ery­one, es­pe­cially Andy Mur­ray him­self, is at pains to point out that Great Bri­tain’s Davis Cup team are not a one-man squad. The likes of his brother Jamie, Dan Evans, James Ward, Ross Hutchins and Scot­land’s Colin Flem­ing have all made con­tri­bu­tions to the jour­ney back from Euro/Africa Zone II and the likes of Jamie, Ward, Kyle Ed­mund and Do­minic In­glot could yet help Bri­tain get over the line in Bel­gium. But, in truth, Petchey is aware how re­liant Bri­tish ten­nis is on the world No.2.

“Leon [Smith] has made some big calls and 98% of them have come off, so Bri­tain are there be­cause of him too,” said Petchey. “Jamie was the go to guy in France and played well enough against Aus­tralia as well. But ev­ery team has a fran­chise player and Andy is ours. He’s unique in the re­spect that if he loses one of his matches, we lose the tie. We are sit­ting here talk­ing about win­ning the ul­ti­mate team com­pe­ti­tion in the world and, along with Jamie and a couple of cameos we’ve had, he’s been the rock.”

The flip side of that, of course, is just how bar­ren a place Bri­tish ten­nis will be­come when his body fi­nally gives way and he de­cides to hang up his racket. “We are in­cred­i­bly for­tu­nate to have had him,” added Petchey, speak­ing as David Lloyd Leisure in­stalled a spe­cial re­bound wall at a Cam­bus­lang school re­cently. “It’s hard to put into words what it has meant to us to have been able to be a part of his jour­ney to the lat­ter stages of all th­ese tour­na­ments.

“With­out him? It’s a gap­ing hole, isn’t it? Hope­fully no­body is run­ning away from the fact that when Andy goes, the enor­mous canyon he has been pa­per­ing over will be laid bare. We need to make ten­nis cost ef­fec­tive, as ac­ces­si­ble and af­ford­able as we can. With­out him, it’s go­ing to feel un­be­liev­ably bar­ren.”

Un­til then, Scot­land and Bri­tain should just revel in one of the most amaz­ing tales in more than a cen­tury of Davis Cup ac­tion. “Dun­blane could win a Davis Cup,” said Petchey. “They [Andy and Jamie], on their own, could win it. And fair play. It is a great story and they are great guys. What other

Hope­fully no­body is run­ning away from the fact that when Andy goes, the enor­mous canyon he has been pa­per­ing over will be laid bare

Pic­ture: Getty

EARLY IN­FLU­ENCE: Mark Petchey helps a 19-year-old Andy Mur­ray pre­pare for ac­tion.

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