How Murray Convinced Henman To Be Great Britain's ATP Cup Captain
“I'm really excited to be a part of it… If I'm honest, it was not something that I had really given a great deal of thought at that stage,” Henman said. “Then when we did discuss it, I think there are lots of reasons why I accepted, and I think one of the reasons is Andy [Murray]. I have had a great relationship with him for a long, long time. The reality is he's not going to play forever… seeing this new event, the ATP Cup in Australia, I think when you look at the opportunity with the players, they've got nine of the Top 10 and 26 of the Top 30. It's going to be very, very exciting.”
About a month ago, Murray sent a message to Henman. The opportunity for the 11-time ATP Tour titlist to work with Murray was an enticing one.
“It wasn't something I was necessarily expecting. But once Andy sent me a message and said, ‘How about it?’, I definitely gave it some serious thought,” Henman said. “I think he's a significant reason why I accepted, because he's someone that I have had a great relationship for a long time. The impact that he's had on British tennis as well as world tennis has been enormous.”
Henman has been impressed with Murray’s resiliency. Murray underwent hip surgery after the Australian Open that put his career in jeopardy. But the 32-year-old returned to singles action in Cincinnati and claimed the first ATP Tour title of his singles comeback in Antwerp.
“Having seen what he's gone through with the hip surgery and how well he's come back, I think how he's taken so many people by surprise and I think how much more he's still got to improve, I think that's what's exciting,” Henman said. “[That was] a big part of why I accepted the captaincy.”
This is the first time Henman has taken on such a role. And the Brit believes it won’t necessarily be about working on specific aspects of an individual player’s game, but creating a strong team atmosphere in which everyone could excel.
“A lot of it will be about environment, making sure that the players can prepare well and be out there and give themselves the best opportunity to play their best tennis. I think an environment where you're having fun and it's structured, it's organised. I think most of the guys are going to have their own coaches there,” Henman said. “So bringing together a cohesive unit and communicating well, preparing well, and going out there and giving it your best shot.
“I don't think this is about trying to reinvent the wheel. It's about getting there, preparing well, and enjoying the challenge, because there are going to be some tough ones.”
Perhaps it’s fitting that Henman won his first ATP Tour title in Sydney in 1997. Great Britain will compete in Group C — to be contested in Sydney — against Belgium, Bulgaria and Moldova.
“When the draw came out for the British team to be in Sydney, it was something I was excited about. It's where I won my first title in White City in '97, Henman said. “I'm pretty sure the sun is going to shine, so that's a lot better than here in the UK in January. I'm looking forward to it all.”