John McEnroe says Andy Murray helping Great Britain over the line in the Davis Cup final for the first time in 79 years could give him a lift if he meets Novak Djokovic in the final of the Australian Open again in January.
Djokovic attributed leading Serbia to victory in the 2010 final as contributing significantly to his marvellous 2011 season, when he began to challenge the hegemony at the top of the game.
Speaking before the first Tie Break Tens tournament at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday night, McEnroe, who won 59 of 69 Davis Cup matches for the United States in a record 30 ties over 14 years, was glowing in his praise of Murray’s performance in leading Great Britain to a 3-1 victory over Belgium in Ghent last weekend. Murray finished the campaign with 11 wins: eight singles and three doubles with his brother, Jamie.
That was just one fewer than McEnroe’s record of 12 in one year – for which he was grateful. “That might be the one record I still have,” the 56-year-old American said. “Thank God for James Ward [who beat John Isner in the match against the USA to prevent a Murray clean sweep]. I know that when you have to play three [matches] that these days it is even more difficult because the physicality has gone up a quotient. It’s harder than when I did it.”
He added: “I think Andy is going to look back on this in 10 or 15 years and be extremely proud of it. He’s done something that I never got to do, even though both our brothers played professionally, and that is to win the Davis Cup with your brother alongside you. That has to be awesome.
“He has had an extremely long year so he is going to need a break. He’s been in four Australian Open finals, so he could potentially use it to his advantage. It is something that could help him get over the hump because could be a bit sharper than normal, and he’s already had great results there.
“Obviously Novak, though, is going to say ‘Ha, ha I got a little rest,’ – so it’s how you deal with it mentally, when it comes down to that moment if they were to play again.”
Murray outlined his schedule for the first six months of 2016, in which he has to accommodate the arrival of his first child, due in February.
After this tournament – in which Murray, McEnroe, Kyle Edmund, Tim Henman, David Ferrer and Xavier Malisse compete for a first prize of $250,00 in a new quick-fire format – he leaves to join the final stages of the second season of the International Premier Tennis League in Dubai.
“I’ve just taken five days’ break and I’ll get a small break over Christmas time, and the whole of February for sure,” Murray said. “Maybe post-Miami, I might have a similar schedule on clay to what I had this year, take another break there. For the first five, six months of the year, they’d be the two periods where I would get enough time to rest and recover, and also train, to build myself up for the hardcourt swing back in the States in March, then the Davis Cup and the claycourt season.
“You have to play it a little bit by ear, as well. You don’t know how you’re going to play all of the time. The best-case scenario: you’re winning every week and getting to the latter stages, but that isn’t always the case.”
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