The feuding Murrays didn’t speak to each other for weeks
By Malcolm Folley
Andy Murray and his older brother Jamie have patched up a feud that threatened to derail Britain's crucial Davis Cup relegation match against Austria, which begins at Wimbledon on Friday.
Britain's captain John Lloyd, who had been aware that the Murrays' bond was under strain, said: 'I was very concerned about the apparent differences between them.'
The brothers fell out earlier this year in a row over the Davis Cup and their relationship disintegrated when they appeared together for Britain at the Beijing Olympics last month. Then, on Monday night in New York, one familiar face was notably absent from the family box when 21- year-old Andy played the US Open final against Roger Federer.
While family members and the key components of Team Murray packed into the box to watch Andy's unsuccessful attempt to win his first Grand Slam, Jamie, 22, had left town.
Lloyd said: 'I had left the US Open by the time Andy got through to the latter stages of the tournament, so I was surprised as anyone not to see Jamie sitting in the box. Like everyone else who saw their doubles match at the Olympics and then heard the rumours going around the Lawn Tennis Association, I was worried.'
Lloyd's fears for the players who are the spine of Britain's Davis Cup team were allayed when the brothers settled their differences over several games of pool at Andy's London penthouse overlooking the Thames.
Yesterday, Andy volunteered to begin practising for the Davis Cup at Wimbledon a day earlier than planned, having had just four days' rest, including an overnight flight, after his US Open adventure was ended by Federer.
Team-mates Alex Bogdanovic and Ross Hutchins also reported for duty, and football fan Lloyd took all three to see Wolves, his favourite team, play at Charlton. Jamie missed that treat only because he had an engagement to fulfil in his home town, Dunblane. He will join the team at their Chelsea headquarters this afternoon. Lloyd admits that the mood ahead of the match with Austria has been improved by the Murrays repairing their strained relationship.
He explained: 'I was worried because I want to put out my best team. To me, that is Andy and Alex in the singles; and if he is fit and fresh, Andy alongside Jamie in the doubles. I did not do the commentary on the Murrays doubles in Beijing, but I watched it and it was clear they were not getting on.
'It's great news for me, a week before the tie, that the concerns I had have disappeared after speaking to several people at the LTA. It's my job to be aware of potential tensions. I am delighted to have everyone fit and ready to go as a team. From my own experience of playing Davis Cup with my brother, David, I know tensions can arise between brothers. Hopefully, I can make the atmosphere fun this coming week.'
Usually, a family feud would be of little significance to those outside the Murray clan. But with survival in the Davis Cup world group on the line, the suspicion that the Murrays were barely on speaking terms had acquired added importance.
The Murrays became brothers-at-war when Jamie scathingly criticised Andy for missing the Davis Cup tie in Buenos Aires in February. The Murrays did not speak to each other for a fortnight after Argentina thrashed the under-strength British team to condemn them to this relegation tie.
Until recently, Jamie lodged with Andy in his flat at Wandsworth. But he has since bought his own home in the Wimbledon area. He lives the life of a bachelor, whereas Andy has been in a steady relationship with Kim Sears for more than two-and-a-half years.
In New York, Andy and Kim played Scrabble on some nights after usually having dinner with the rest of the players' back-up team: coach Miles Maclagan, fitness trainers Jez Green and Matt Little and physiotherapist Andy Ireland.
Those men are credited with creating the platform for Andy to play world-class tennis. 'I'd be very disappointed with myself if I never won a grand slam championship,' he said. His sombre mood reflected his reaction to the US Open campaign; he was not content with the runner-up trophy. 'I watched the opening ceremony here when winners from the past 40 years paraded on the court,' said Murray, who has climbed to No 4 in the world. 'They don't invite the runner-up.'
Murray's willingness to co-operate with a raft of media duties, while absorbing the pain of defeat, illustrated just how much he is maturing under public scrutiny.
'When you're not enjoying your work you take a lot of baggage home with you,' said Murray. 'Around March-April this year I really started to enjoy myself off the court. We get along great and the team make me feel good about myself.'
The disparity between the Murray brothers' status in the game was apparent in New York. While Andy left the US Open with a cheque for $1million, Jamie won a total of $43,250; $35,000 for finishing runnerup in the mixed doubles and $8,250 for losing with Max Mirnyi in the first round of the men's doubles.
Yet Jamie has accepted without envy that he lives in the twilight world of doubles; and his name is the first Murray to be written on the Wimbledon honours board after he won the mixed doubles championship with Jelena Jankovic in 2007.
But it is Andy, stronger and fitter, who is headed for the stars. In the bowels of the Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday night, the brothers' father, Willie Murray, offered an insight into the complexities of his younger son.
'As a boy, Andy was temperamental at times, but that's because he is a winner,' he said. 'Andy is a role model - and that's something he should be proud of. There must be a lot of distractions for a top sportsman, but Andy is not going to be tempted.'
In the nick of time, his two sons have restored normal service with one another and offered British tennis genuine hope of remaining in the main arena of the Davis Cup in the process.