WIMBLEDON champion Andy Murray refused to blame fatigue after his straight-sets defeat to Fabio Fognini contributed to Great Britain’s Davis Cup quarter-final elimination yesterday.
Leon Smith’s team went into the final day in Naples with a 2-1 lead and in touching distance of reaching the last four for the first time since 1981, but Murray was swept aside by world No13 Fognini before James Ward lost the deciding rubber to Andreas Seppi.
Murray looked weary in his third match in as many days, having been struck down with a stomach bug on the eve of the tie, but the Scot played down the effect of his lack of rest on the 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 outcome.
“I was tired when I got up but I felt okay once I got out there. I did okay physically in the match. I’ve definitely felt worse in matches on clay,” he said.
“He played some great stuff at important periods in the match and that was the main difference. When I had my main opportunities I was a little bit disappointed in myself, and when he had his he was exceptional, so credit to him.”
The world No8 also poured cold water on suggestions he had been affected by a partisan crowd, having appeared to be unhappy during the match at noise between serves.
“It was a Davis Cup atmosphere. We don’t get that on a day-to-day basis on the ATP Tour, but when you play away from home you get that,” he said.
“I just asked one time for the [Italy] captain not to speak while I was serving because he was right there on the court, but it’s not a major issue.”
Murray’s loss meant progress rested on Ward’s clash with Seppi, but the world No161 from London was unable to reprise the heroics that helped Britain win in the United States earlier this year, losing to the Italian 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.
Italy go on to meet Switzerland in the semi-finals, while Britain have the consolation of cementing their place in the World Group, the competition’s top tier.
“Losing is never easy, despite going up against a very strong Italian team,” said captain Smith. “I’m very proud of what the team has done this weekend and getting to this stage of the competition. It gives us something to build on, learn from, and we can just keep improving as a team and staff so that we can get ready for the 2015 campaign.”
Switzerland had to come from behind to beat Kazakhstan in their quarter-final, Australian Open winner Stanislas Wawrinka levelling the tie before Roger Federer claimed a decisive win. Czech Republic will visit France in the other Davis Cup semi-final, to be held in September, after they knocked out Japan and Germany respectively.