Andy Murray takes up coaching role before Dan Evans is crowned king of the Brits

Dan Evans lived up to his billing as Britain’s top-ranked player as he defeated Kyle Edmund to win the Battle of the Brits but it was Andy Murray’s coaching performance in the third place play-off that really caught the eye.

Evans, the world No. 28 who defeated Murray in the semi-finals, remained unbeaten for the week with a 6-3 6-2 win over Yorkshire’s Edmund and took home the bragging rights.

It was a high-quality performance to end a high-quality tournament, which was the brainchild of Jamie Murray and gave the British contingent some much-needed match play before the ATP Tour returns officially in August.

‘It was literally like a tour event,’ said Evans, who also finished as runner-up in the doubles. ‘I wasn’t sure how it was going to be.

‘Thanks to everyone who has worked at the tournament, all the players have loved it – they’ve been raving about it.

‘It’s been a long week and a great week. Hopefully we can do it all again.’

Murray, the British No. 4, was scheduled to play in the third place play-off earlier in the afternoon against Cameron Norrie but pulled out after suffering with a ‘sore’ left shin throughout the week. James Ward took his place.

But the three-time Grand Slam champion did make it onto the court, as Ward’s coach. He also undertook some ball boy duties – surely the first British knight to take up such a role.

The most amusing moment of the match came when Murray told Ward to bring more energy to the court, telling the world No. 273: ‘You’ve got f***ing two weeks in Virginia to sit on your a*** before your next match.’

Murray found the role less draining than regular matches, telling Amazon Prime in an on-court interview: ‘It’s much easier than playing, that’s for sure.’

He added after the match: ‘It was fun. The second set especially was a high level of tennis. I think both the guys played well at the end.

‘Cam played well throughout but I think Wardie definitely upped his level in the second set. It was good.

‘I think that is what all the players wanted from this week  was high-level competitive tennis and we certainly got that from most of the matches I have seen.’

Ward, who only found out he would be playing at 10.15pm on Saturday night, said in a press conference: ‘Last night he said he was happy to sit in the corner and coach and I thought it’d be great for everyone as well to hear him as a coach. So my coach got the Sunday off.

‘He’s knowledgable and it’s interesting to hear what he has to say about a few different things in the match. It was fun anyway, we’ve been mates for years and a nice change up. 

‘Obviously we had a little laugh about a couple of things but it’s a serious match and he’s trying to give me the best information he can and how he would sort of do things.

‘It’s not the first time, we’ve played many years of Davis Cup together. We’ve spoken a lot about how different gamestyles match up so it wasn’t a surprise having him there today.’

Murray was in good spirits as he discussed his fitness after the match and, overall, was satisfied with his form in his first week of competitive tennis since November.

‘I am okay. This week is by far the most I have done in the last seven months,’ said Murray. ‘I mean my left shin has been an issue coming. It was a bit sore after my first match.

‘Then it was okay for a couple of days. I felt it the day before I played Evo and then after I finished my match with him. Best not to risk it.

‘For me the results weren’t the important thing this week. I wanted to get matches and hopefully play some good tennis. At times, I played really, really well this week.

‘And at times my level dropped quite a lot. If I can get back to that, the level I was playing at in the first set yesterday and maintain that for longer periods, I will be just fine.’

His brother Jamie, who organised the event as well as winning the doubles tournament with partner Neal Skupski, added after the final: ‘It’s been a great week. A lot of fun.

‘It’s been great to put on a tennis event. There’s been great energy around the whole tournament. Hopefully we can get back to normal tennis soon.’

Runner-up Edmund cheekily added: ‘Thanks to Jamie, tournament director, could be a future role. I like you in the chinos, it looks good. Maybe one too many buttons undone at the top.’

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