SOURCE: Photo, Kulitat, CC BY-SA 2.0
Just when you thought that tennis in Britain and the entire grass court season was likely to be a total washout, Jamie Murray comes to save the day. The brother of Andy Murray – and one of the UK’s leading doubles players – has devised an exclusive event solely for British tennis pros. ‘Battle of the Brits’ will be staged at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, London on 23-28 June.
The tournament, which is expected to have a dual purpose of giving British tennis players much-needed match practice and raise funds for the NHS Charities Together organization, will hand Andy Murray a chance of returning to competitive action prior to the US Open. Murray had been plotting a return to the courts at the Miami ATP Tour event in March, instead having to make do with winning the Madrid Open Virtual Pro title. It’s hoped that the Scotsman will be in good shape to perform this month.
Although the event is due to be broadcast live on Amazon Prime, tennis fans stateside will be able to keep up to date with the competition with the leading US sportsbooks. FOX Bet, which offers legalized sports wagering in three US states, will be at the front of the queue as they cover tennis markets all year long, spanning Challenger-level events through to Grand Slams.
What is the format of the Battle of the Brits?
The structure of the Battle of the Brits is a round-robin format. The top eight British pros have been split into two groups of four. The first group is named the “Henman Group”, while the second is named the “Rusedski Group”. Murray finds himself in the Henman Group alongside James Ward, Kyle Edmund and Liam Broady. The Rusedski Group contains current British no.1 Dan Evans, as well as Jay Clarke, Cameron Norrie and Jack Draper.
There is also a doubles event which will operate simultaneously, involving the leading British doubles partners. The event is designed around the same round-robin format, with two groups of three pairings placed in the “Paul Hutchins Group” and “Cathie Sabin Group” respectively. Hutchins was Britain’s longest-serving captain of its Davis Cup team, while Sabin was the inaugural female president of the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) and sadly passed away in May.
The main talking point surrounding the Battle of the Brits will be the clash between Murray and Kyle Edmund – two former British number-ones that have locked horns several times in the past
and are searching for form and fitness at present. Murray has a 3-1 head-to-head advantage over Edmund, although Edmund did win their last competitive meeting in 2018 at Eastbourne.
In a brief post-draw discussion with the tournament organizer, his brother Jamie, Andy Murray insisted that “Dan Evans and Cameron Norrie are favorites” to win the event outright. He admitted that he “wanted to avoid” both Evans and Norrie in the initial group stage and that’s how it has transpired. Murray has set a target of at least finishing third in his group, with Liam Broady and James Ward likely to be easier propositions than Kyle Edmund in the Henman Group.
Murray’s US Open aspirations
Providing all goes well in Roehampton, there is every chance that Murray will opt to compete at the US Open in August. At least that’s the view of recent doubles partner Feliciano Lopez, who won the Queens doubles title with him last year. The Spaniard said in a recent interview that Murray is “really pumped” about the challenge of returning at Flushing Meadows. Lopez confirmed that Murray was “starting to practise again” and that he was feeling “positive” about his hip.
Last January, Murray was forced to admit prior to the Australian Open that he may be forced to retire due to his troublesome hip injury. The pain had made it almost impossible for the Scot to undertake the simplest of tasks like putting his shoes on. Despite threatening to retire, Murray took the advice of American doubles star Bob Bryan and underwent the Birmingham hip (BHR) operation. As of March 2019, Murray confirmed he was pain-free as a result of the operation, returning to men’s doubles with Feliciano Lopez at Queens in June. The world of tennis has its collective fingers crossed that one of the biggest personalities in the sport can compet