Andy Murray Might Skip The ATP Finals If The Davis Cup Final Is On Clay
by Tom Gainey | September 22nd, 2015, 9:35 am

Andy Murray admitted he might skip the prestigious ATP Finals in London in November if the Davis Cup final is played on clay. Belgium will host Great Britain for the November 27th tie, but has not decided on surface.

“The O2 would obviously be a question mark for me if we were playing on the clay,” Murray told BBC Radio 5 live Sunday.

“I would go and train and prepare on the clay to get ready for the final.

“If you reach the final and play on the Sunday you also need to take time off – you can’t just play five matches against the best players in the world and then not take any days off.”

ATP Boss Chris Kermode responded saying that all players who qualify and are uninjured, must play the Finals.

“The Barclays ATP World Tour Finals is a mandatory event on the ATP World Tour,” he said.
“All players who qualify, unless injured, are required to compete in the event. Andy Murray has had a fantastic season and earned his place among the world’s top eight players to compete at the season finale.

“We are aware of the comments made after the Davis Cup tie in Glasgow, however our expectations are that, if fully fit, Andy would compete in this year’s tournament. Unless we hear otherwise via an official withdrawal, he is still entered to compete at the O2.”

Belgium’s best player, David Goffin, arguably plays his best tennis on red clay. And their No. 2, Steve Darcis, also has a career title on clay.

Murray’s last match at the ATP Finals turned out to be one of his worst, losing in humiliating fashion to Roger Federer 60, 61.

Great Britain hasn’t won the Davis Cup title since 1936.

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56 Comments for Andy Murray Might Skip The ATP Finals If The Davis Cup Final Is On Clay

Ben Pronin Says:

“you can’t just play five matches against the best players in the world and then not take any days off.”

So he’s sure he’s going to reach the final? Gotta love that confidence :D.

the DA Says:

^ he has reached the SFs a few times. Not sure but perfectly feasible. Even 4 matches against the best is going to take something out of you.

Ben Pronin Says:

I’m not saying it’s not possible.

But I do hope he gets as much flack as Federer did last year for withdrawing from the finals. Wawrinka and Federer played 4 matches against the top 8 and went to France to play on clay and still pulled through. I get Murray’s reasoning but I don’t agree with the decision.

RZ Says:

@Ben – the difference is that Fed and Wawrinka were a 2-man Davis Cup team. Even when Fed lost his first match, Wawrinka won his and they stayed in contention. Murray is pretty much a 1-man Davis Cup team. He loses one of his singles matches, sadly the team is pretty much done. (There are only so many Davis Cup miracles that James Ward can work).

elina Says:

Murray is proving what Roger doubted for years prior to Stan’s bloom. A one-man DC team can win it all.

chris ford1 Says:

This is not a situation Andy created.
He is just caught up in an ongoing scheduling and “host nation chooses any surface they want” – bungling by the ATP, ITF, and national tennis federations.
Besides Fed bailing last year, you had the situation with Nole the year before that. Djokovic won Beijing, Shanghai, Paris, then beat Roger twice and Rafa in the Final of the WTF – and a few days later had to do Davis Cup. Djokovic delivered the goods but later said he didn’t know how he played – he was exhausted going in – ran on fumes and pure emotion. Doubles were too much to ask of him. And he played on the same surface from Beijing through the great Final at WTF with Rafa.

Britain is counting on Andy to play DC doubles as well as 2 singles rubbers if it comes to a 5th tie. And shift in two days to a clay surface the Belgians will have weeks of practice on beforehand.
It’s too much to ask of him –

The suits of the ITF, DC federations and ATP need to sit down and fix this. Djokovic pointed out the schedule nearly being impossible and having to be fixed back in 2013, but the powers that be blew that off.
For starters, even the Olympics decided that a shift to clay a week after Rogers Cup was undoable, despite Rafa’s natural lobbying for clay (supposedly on behalf of the poor Brazilian players deprived of their favored playing surface) . So hardcourt was the decision. To in part, the announcement went, minimize chance of player injury.
Yes, it’s part of Davis Cup tradition. Some of the machinations of national DC organizations are clever and entertaining. The US decided on mile high Boise Idaho in 2013 to assist servbots Querrey and Isner in thinner air against Djokovic and the Serbs – who were crippled by loss of both Tipsarevic and Troicki.
Didn’t work. Nole held and the underdog Serb doubles team beat the Bryan Brothers. And the Serbs loved Boise and the moutains, and Boise made out with a marquee event. But the USA didn’t try a surface shift. Had they, the Serbs might not have shown. Too dangerous to them and their superstar. (Or as Stepanek said – the Ferrari the coach left in the garage for the DC Final in doubles)..

RZ Says:

Kind of a tangential point here, but last year Dmitrov ended up 9th in the race to London and therefore was the first alternate. He chose not to go to London. Wouldn’t the rule apply to the alternates as well? Seems like if they can’t force the alternates to show up, there would be a loophole or leeway for players who wanted to skip.

Ben Pronin Says:

RZ, interesting point. But with alternates there’s no guarantee that they can play. They’re basically lucky losers and lucky losers are already the players who simply didn’t leave as soon as they lost. So in that sense I could see why they can’t force alternates.

But Murray could easily cite fatigue or “injury”. He basically brought it on himself for stating his intentions like this but hopefully it’ll actually spur some change for the better going forward. That Andy is one selfless guy.

Elina, eh. Not to take anything away from Murray but this has been somewhat of a let down year for the DC juggernauts. GB over Australia and Belgium over Argentina? Australia and Argentina aren’t fielding nearly the quality of players they were years ago. Spain’s top guys took the year off or couldn’t play. Serbia’s top guys have declined a lot outside of Djokovic. The US is a shell of its former self. And I think no one showed up to defend Switzerland.

Margot Says:

Ben @10.31
It’s not the same situation as with Fed last year. If Andy withdraws before the WTF, No 9 gets to play and, barring injury of course, WTF and the fans get a final.
They always have someone, presumably No 9, on standby I think.

J-Kath Says:

Ben Pronin the same rules apply to the Alternates – Grigor must have given ATP a valid reason. It’s in the ATP Circuit Regulations. I think the ATP must accept the blame for allowing Grigor’s replacement (was it Lopez)? to leave London before the final. He should have inherited Roger’s position and faced Nole in the final.

RZ @ 11.07
And to Elina

Agree absolutely.

RZ Says:

@J-Kath, Dmitrov basically said he wasn’t going to go to London if he wasn’t going to play the actual tournament. No injury/fatigue withdrawal from him.

I think the alternates can only step in during round robin play. Otherwise you could have someone win the title who hasn’t played any other matches all week.

elina Says:

I suppose you have a point Ben.

Much like Roger last year who suddenly joined the team in Serbia after Novak pulled out before beating Kazakhstan, Italy and an injured and typically defeatist French squad in the finals.

Still, you can only beat who is on the other side of the net, yes?

Margot Says:

That’d be just like the “good old days” when the previous year’s champ just played the final!

skeezer Says:

“Still, you can only beat who is on the other side of the net, yes?”

Ben Pronin Says:

Elina, yeah I guess kind of like that. But I don’t think Roger thought it was impossible to win alone, just that he didn’t want to commit to it at the expense of his individual career.

J-Kath, are you sure? I was under the impression that the alternates were simply given invitations that said “hey, you’ll be able to play if someone pulls out.” But there’s no requirement. Because technically there should be 8 alternates, right? But you don’t see all of them attend the event, usually 2-3 guys show up.

Also there’s no way Federer was going to be replaced in the final. That’s just not how it works.

I agree that Murray pulling out ahead of time is good because we’ll definitely see an alternate take his spot, but it doesn’t really justify the excuse. Federer pulled out last year after playing an insanely long and physical semifinal during which he started experiencing back pain. His withdrawal was the result of injury. Had he beaten Wawrinka in 2 sets or 3 fast sets, he probably would’ve been fine and played the final. And I’m sure some people assume he was going to withdraw from the final no matter what, but that makes 0 sense. He fought hard to beat Stan. Why fight hard if you don’t plan on playing for the title? And considering Federer’s lack of history in withdrawing from matches, it doesn’t match up.

Purcell Says:

Thank you Ben. Everything you say makes sense and Luthi said Roger had nothing left in the tank in that final. How often do you hear a member of Roger’s team say anything?

sienna Says:

wouldnt be a good moral booster losing 0 and 1 before davis cup final.
Federer ownes Murray especially O2.

J-Kath Says:

Ben Pronin – Hi Ben if you go to the ATP Circuit Regulations (about 22 pages long)and to save time – go to F – GOOD STANDING you will see words to the effect:

….”They participate in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, if qualified as a direct acceptance or designated as the alternative, unless otherwise approved by the ATP.”

Off to prepare dinner now – see U all later.


Did try to forward this section but failed.

Ben Pronin Says:

I’m really curious as to how the process works. Because I remember Dimitrov basically saying he didn’t want to waste his time because he didn’t feel like he belonged or something. I could see the ATP just saying “OK, bye.” Or maybe he was fined?

elina Says:

In 2008 when two alternates were required, only two players ranked in the Top 35 of the ATP Race, after Gilles Simon, accepted the invitation to come to Shanghai : 26th-ranked Radek Štěpánek of the Czech Republic, and 35th-ranked Nicolas Kiefer of Germany.

Among the twenty-four players who declined to come – because they needed to prepare for the Davis Cup final, for reasons of injury, or to preserve themselves for the next season – were James Blake, David Nalbandian, 2007 Tennis Masters Cup finalist David Ferrer, Stanislas Wawrinka, 2007 qualifier Fernando González, Fernando Verdasco, Gaël Monfils, Robin Söderling, Igor Andreev, Nicolás Almagro, Tomáš Berdych, Tommy Robredo, Marin Čilić, Mardy Fish, 2007 qualifier Richard Gasquet, Ivo Karlović, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Dmitry Tursunov, Marat Safin, Feliciano López, Paul-Henri Mathieu, Mikhail Youzhny, Rainer Schüttler and Mario Ančić.

jalep Says:

Interesting information, elina.

Seems like this missing the WTF is Andy wants is quite possible then.

jalep Says:

if not is

J-Kath Says:

Ben I don’t know if Dimitrov was fined – but according to the rules he should have. As to inheriting the position of a player who withdrew during the contest – I believe this has happened on several occasions. The substitute may be lucky and inherit the finalist position or unlucky because they inherit the current position of the least successful player.

If there is a rule that states that when a finalist withdraws before the final that no substitute should be called upon to play?- it is not stated in the ATP Rules/Regulations.

Even without looking at the rules it doesn’t make much sense – there has to be closure to the tournament – you simply can’t have a full stadium waiting for a WTF final and say “sorri folks one of the players withdrew and there is no official substitute still available to replace him – so after the injured guy has conveyed his apologies we’ll offer a couple of exhibitions… “.


Ben Pronin Says:

“Among the twenty-four players who declined to come – because they needed to prepare for the Davis Cup final, for reasons of injury, or to preserve themselves for the next season”

So preserving themselves for the next season is a valid reason? Therefore it really is just an invitation and nothing more. So Dimitrov could have easily avoided a fine.

J-Kath, I’m curious if it has ever happened where a lucky loser has been placed into the final after a finalist withdrew. In fact, I’m curious if a lucky loser has ever been placed anywhere beyond the first round outside of a round robin event. It makes way less sense to have, who, Feliciano Lopez play Djokovic in the finals of the WTF where Djokovic had played, and won, 4 matches versus 0 matches played for Lopez. How would that even look? Especially if Lopez would have won? While it sucks for the fans and the tournament, there’s no way that makes any kind of sense.

J-Kath Says:

Elina – don’t know about 2008 on Wiki (13 years ago) – things have changed with the 2 conflicting organisations – please have a look at the 22 page ATP document as mentioned – does not support any form of withdrawal without permission.

J-Kath Says:

Sorri Elina – 7 years ago – is late – off to bed.

Emily Says:

Last year raonic pulled out during round robin and ferrer played his other matches. People were discussing dimitrov not coming b/c cilic was also injured and I think Lopez may have been there as a third alternate. I do think that Andy is presuming a lot that he’ll do as well as roger and get to the finals. Sorry, but based on last year, his results weren’t stellar at the O2. He may pull out at the last minute, but this is a different situation then last year, and it could be argued GB is a one man team. Pity they’re not playing Argentina at home, so they could pick hard court

Tennisfan Says:

Let him skip it if it’s not that important for him compared to Davis Cup. Or I could see him just tanking first round to enable him to practice for DC anyways.

madmax Says:

I think the schedule for the players, all the players, is brutal.

There should be some kind of dispensation, IF they get to the latter end of the masters or slam events, then have to go on and play DC, then further, at the WTF.

No wonder Murray has thought about this.

If he does, then who could blame him for this decision? or anyone for that matter.

These players get around 4 weeks off a year, if they are lucky and it is wise to look at each individual schedule more carefully, so that they stay in tennis for as long as possible, overall.

Don’t blame Murray at all, but also wondering if he has been misquoted. Could put a different spin on things.

roy Says:

they care about murray selling the london event and drawing ticket revenue, it’s that simple. the atp is a globalist corporation, not a sporting association.

skeezer Says:

Gotta say your posts always speak volumes of the positives of the state of Mens Tennis, unless of course it’s Rafa in posing in underwear.

sienna Says:

Murphy is not considered winning O2 so no point in trying.
.Roger nearly pulled it off only injury set him back.
Not before he demoralised Murph with 0 and 1. the sledgehammer blow that lasts already almost full year.

Margot Says:

Bodo’s “take.” Supports Andy. A fine, loss of points. Enough already.

J-Kath Says:

Emily – I had thought there was a Raonic retirement and Ferrer replaced – but wasn’t quite sure so – thanks for fuelling my memory.

I doubt there’s many of us who think Andy could win WTF but likely that he’ll do a lot better than last year (re. his killing schedule to qualify and spanking by Roger of which we are reminded by Sienna rather frequently). However, Andy himself may believe he has an outside chance – certainly he has the potential to improve on last year’s performance and in so doing increase ranking points.

This year his heart and head will be at cross purposes – while wanting to go as deep as possible he’ll be worrying about the after-effects.

Above Margot mentions Bodo’s article recommending a fine and loss of points …the best of an uncomfortable situation – but my extra worry is “Not being eligible as a main draw entry in the following ATP year”. Lordie if that means what I think it means that is really tough.

J-Kath Says:

Ben – I don’t know if an alternate has ever had to replace a finalist – but also don’t see why it wouldn’t make sense – the alternatives are there for any withdrawal – the WTF is one of a kind – only 8 players so to ensure matches take place there has to be substitutes (in other tournaments if someone withdraws after the tournament starts then the remaining player gets a “Bye”) – you know all that of course , but mentioning it simply to highlight the difference in format.

As for Lopez, if he’d still been around when Fed. withdrew do you honestly think he would not have played Nole? Why have a substitute if you’re not going to use him? I wouldn’t have thought such a decision would be based on the possibility that he might or might not beat Nole.

Margot Says:

Looks like Flanders on clay.
The plot thickens.

calmdownplease Says:

Quite foolish of them.
Andy has a masters in clay and is on the up on this surface, so what do Goffin, Darcis etc have?
Not a God Damn thing, that’s what!
(And two 250 titles don’t count as anything much, sorry!)
You’d have thought they would have learned a lesson from the Americans who neutralised Isner by using clay allowing Ward to have a crucial win.
Although they might have been thinking about the Italian tie instead.
Which i don’t usually :)

Ben Pronin Says:

Because it doesn’t make sense to stick a random player into a final he didn’t earn his place in.

Look at it this way. If Raonic goes 2-0 in RR play, and 4-0 in sets, he’s qualified for the semis. But if he withdraws before his 3rd RR match and Ferrer takes his spot, Ferrer doesn’t inherit that standing. Unless one of the other guys goes 0-3, Ferrer isn’t going to the semis.

So why would someone who’s 0-0 be playing in the final?

Why didn’t Murray act as the alternate last year then? Instead he played an exo with Djokovic. Because you can’t stick random players into the final.

J-Kath Says:

Ben –

Murray couldn’t act as an alternate because he was one of the 8 players. He played the exo because he lived in the area. He did it to help out at the last minute – he was offered and refused a payment.

I can see we won’t be having a meeting of minds…perhaps at the end of this ongoing saga concerning Murray there will be additional clarity.

Keep well.

sienna Says:

I believe there was some other reason why Murray didnt plat the final.

Anyone?? … No??

0/1 ring a bell?
Murphy was humiliated by the man himself. That was #1 reason he didnot play final.

0 and 1

calmdownplease Says:

Sienna = Asperger’s Central!

elina Says:

By sienna’s own reasoning, she is also explaining why Roger skipped the WTF final last year given that Novak was on fire and had beaten him the last two times they played there.


RZ Says:

On the note of Andy playing an exhibition last year with very little notice and without taking payment that was offered…that will go a long way toward the ATP looking the other way if Andy does in fact skip.

I re-read some of the ATP’s comments last night and my interpretation is that it sounds more like they are saying that Andy hasn’t withdrawn yet so they are expecting him to play, and less along hte lines of “he has to play”

Belgium Selects Clay, Will Andy Murray Play The ATP Finals? Says:

[…] this week, Murray admitted that he might skip the prestigious London-based ATP Finals if the Davis Cup final was on clay, so he could better […]

J-Kath Says:


That sounds good RZ – is cheering me up.

And also, no the ATP are in the driving seat but they are not threatening – there may be some accommodation….who knows – would somehow have to be made absolutely crystal clear (the way opinions are going)…

Daniel Says:

Also, alternatives get paid to go there, I believe it is the same prize of any win in singles round robin, which at one point was U$ 100 K. So this ia a motivation to other member of top 20 not bankable as Dimitrov.

chris ford1 Says:

Fed and Djokovic have dominated the Finals for 10 of the last 12 years. Andy would love to win one, to say nothing about Rafa. Fed and Djoker to a lesser extent have owned Andy there, but another year would be another opportunity. Andy would not avoid the WTFs in ordinary circumstances. He wants to get lucky maybe, like Davydenko did, have the cards fall right. And has shown up every year he has been eligible. And jumped in to do the exo to help out last year when Roger didn’t do the Final.

ATP knows this of Andy and his attitude, that it is a safety concern among other issues just jumping into a clay final with not enough time to get a feel for clay again – get timing and balance down. But they have rules that have to be enforced.

And the ATP hierarchy knows that a large number of the Brit sponsors of the ATF Finals at O2 are also sponsors of Andy, Davis Cup, and the British Tennis Federation. And their “druthers” are that Andy and his brother go for the perhaps only chance they and Britain will get to win Davis Cup.

So I predict Andy gets a spanking for not following the rules, the sponsors make it up to Andy and then some in rewards for having a stiff upper lip and taking one for the team. Andy SHOULD end up with a fine, but no other sanctions. That the ATP and ITF will review its rules that Djokovic said in 2013 needed to be changed to prevent exactly this situation from happening.

I also predict that Andy will have the support of the players that take DC seriously, and the support of British fans.

calmdownplease Says:

`Andy would not avoid the WTFs in ordinary circumstances. He wants to get lucky maybe, like Davydenko did..`

He shouldn’t have to `get lucky` FFS!
He was, until recently, the 8th best Indoors player EVER.
Unlike Novak I should add, but then Andy is supposed to be the better GC player too and history will probably disagree with that one.
Last year was for a reason but other years apart from a few great matches he has largely fallen apart.
It’s a puzzler, that’s for sure.

calmdownplease Says:

Agree with RZ’s point about last year and how it would play out this year too.

J-Kath Says:


I have looked at Wiki which you used as the authority on 24 withdrawals from the WTF.

The 2007/08 Tournament that you used to quote 24 withdrawals before the tournament started was during the period it was the “Tennis Masters Cup”.

Under the sponsorship of Barclays ATP WTF (2009)there was only one (talking singles) withdrawal prior to play. During the tournament was one other withdrawal (+ last year’s final).

There are other changes to the rules and regulations following the Barclays sponsorship which did not exist previously.

Purcell Says:

There was nothing ‘lucky’ about Davydenko. We’ve been to WTF every year and we saw him put in some of the finest performances we’ve witnessed there. I dislike this term. It reeks of disrespect and is on a par with ‘weak era’ nonsense.

jalep Says:

People have short memories, Purcell – completely agree with you.

Gypsy Gal Says:

Dont know which thread to put this on,but but just wanted to let Okiegal know that her and hubby are in my thoughts and prayers,i will light a candle tonight and send out some positive energy to the universe,THINKING OF YOU MY DEAR ETHEREAL FRIEND XX….

jalep Says:

+1, Gypsy.

Okiegal, Keeping you and Okieguy in thoughts and prayers.

jane Says:

davydenko was in the WTF finals in 2008 (novak beat him) before he won it the next year in 2009, over delpo, who was having his best year. so yeah, i agree; i don’t think it was luck.

J-Kath Says:

Davis Cup 2016 – 5th set dropped in favour of tie-breaker.

Top story: Djokovic, Thiem Open With Vienna Wins; Wawrinka Ousted