Great Britain vs. Croatia Davis Cup 2013: Does Team GB Really Need Andy Murray?

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistSeptember 13, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05:  Andy Murray of Great Britain serves during his men's singles quarterfinal match against Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland on Day Eleven of the 2013 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 5, 2013 in New York City.  (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)
Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

Andy Murray’s recent U.S. Open collapse should have alarm bells ringing for British tennis fans.

Last year’s Flushing Meadows champion deservedly lost in straight sets to Stanislas Wawrinka. While the Scot’s inability to deal with his Swiss opponent’s attack should worry, Murray’s return to habits of old underline an individual who needs rest during Great Britain’s upcoming Davis Cup World Group Play-off clash with Croatia.

As reported by Oliver Brown of the Telegraph, Murray’s quarter-final failure saw him once again succumb to demons that appeared to have been quashed the previous year:

The negative body language, the petulant outbursts at changeovers, the constant muttering in the vague direction of his support team: all were present and correct during the type of limp performance which, under the aegis of coach Ivan Lendl, was supposed to have been long forgotten.

Murray’s head remains on Wimbledon’s Centre Court. Since finally landing the British Grand Slam title, the 26-year-old has repeatedly displayed the performances of a man who realised his lifetime achievement with the defeat of Novak Djokovic on grass.

Like many who capture their ultimate goal, Murray is suffering with complacency and a lack of motivation.

As reported by Russell Fuller of BBC Sport, at least the player is big enough to admit it. Speaking after his U.S. Open meltdown, Murray confirmed the fears of many, indicating a post-Wimbledon lull has crept into his game:

When you work hard for something for a lot of years it's going to take a bit of time to really fire yourself up and get yourself training 110%.

Physically, I played some extremely tough matches in that period. Mentally, as well, it was very challenging for me... the last few games of Wimbledon to you guys may not seem like much, but to me it was extremely challenging.

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This is not the problem when considering Murray for Davis Cup selection. He should return to form in the coming weeks, but as Team GB look to follow their dramatic 3-2 comeback win over Russia, Murray’s presence is questionable.

His petulance during the U.S. Open will alienate rival fans even further, and if things don’t go to plan for the Scot, his racquet-breaking frustration is likely to return.

Do the team of Colin Fleming, James Ward and new hero Daniel Evans really need such distractions? The trio heroically beat their Russian opponents on U.K. soil back in April, and Murray’s return to the side has the potential to upset the morale of those who triumphed in Coventry.

Great Britain are set to face an extremely limited Croatian squad. Without the presence of Ivo Karlovic and Marin Cilic, team captain Zeljko Krajan has been forced to draft Antonio Veic, Mate Pavic and Borna Coric alongside the quality of Ivan Dodig.

Pavic and Coric are aged 20 and 16, respectively. The latter has a chance of being selected after winning three senior titles on this year’s Futures circuit, as reported by Piers Newbery of BBC Sport. At this stage in Croatia’s development, playing Coric is an opportunity to give a talented youngster major confidence and experience heading into a bright future.

It certainly looks more promising than utilising Veic, who is still to win a tour-level match this season, as confirmed by Sky Sports. These are players Great Britain can overcome without their star attraction.

While Murray remains Team GB’s greatest weapon, the troubled player needs time to get his head together. He continues to play in as many competitions as possible, but his presence in Croatia shouldn’t alter the result of an encounter that is heavily stacked in favour of the visitors.

Murray often flits between brilliance and a bad temper. In a month where his mentality continues to fluctuate, it's time for the Wimbledon champion to take a much-deserved rest.