For too many years the hopes of Great Britain’s tennis prospects have rested firmly on the shoulders of one man. Whether it was Tim Henman in the late 1990s and early 2000s or Andy Murray since he made his breakthrough midway through the last decade, the depth of talent has not been present for Britain in the sport.
Compared to the likes of the United States, Spain, and France, the lack of support around Murray and Henman led to major inquests from UK Sport over relative failures at Grand Slams and the Davis Cup—prior to Murray’s ascension in 2012. Since Murray notched his first major title at the U.S. Open four years ago, which was quickly followed by his Olympic gold in London, the tide appears to have turned due to the Scot’s additional triumphs at Wimbledon (2013 and 2016) as well as GB’s success in the Davis Cup in 2015.
Based on the form of Murray, Kyle Edmund, Dan Evans, Jamie Murray, and Dom Inglot, GB had been backed in the latest tennis betting odds at 11/10 to retain the Davis Cup final ahead of its semifinal clash against Argentina.
The biggest sign of Britain’s progress in producing a steady stock of talent came in the Davis Cup quarterfinals against Serbia. Both nations played without their star players (Murray and Novak Djokovic) following their exploits at Wimbledon, with the 29-year-old world No. 2 winning the tournament for a second time. As a result, Leon Smith’s men were reliant on Edmund to be their leader in singles, facing off against experienced veteran Janko Tipsarevic. The 21-year continued to prove his reputation as a rising star by cruising to a straight-set win that gave his team a lead.
James Ward attempted to extend the advantage but was beaten by Dusan Lajovic, raising the stakes for Inglot and Jamie Murray in their doubles match. The duo delivered in a tense battle, winning in four sets to restore GB’s lead—with the chance of clinching a semifinal berth on the shoulders of Edmund. He came through again by defeating Lajovic in straight sets, holding his nerve on a tiebreaker to drive Smith’s team into the last four.
A glorious summer for Britain continued when Murray built on his second Wimbledon crown by adding another gold medal to his collection at the Olympics in Rio.
The performances of Edmund and Evans at the U.S. Open have given further hope that the future is bright for the men’s game in Britain. Meanwhile, Johanna Konta has ensured that progress continues to be made on the women’s side despite injuries having halted the development of Laura Robson and Heather Watson.
Murray remains at the top of the sport, but Edmund’s victories over Richard Gasquet and John Isner in New York suggests there is hope that the Scot could have some company in the second week of Grand Slams in 2017. Britain can only hope that Edmund’s progression through the system is the start of a strong production line of players because Murray’s brilliance will not last forever as he approaches his 30s, in which even Roger Federer has struggled to add more titles to his name.