5th March 2009
Josh Goodall insists he can replace Andy Murray as Great Britain’s talisman this weekend after finally exorcising his mental demons.
Goodall, 23, is expected to be asked to spearhead his country’s bid for Davis Cup victory over Ukraine when captain John Lloyd names his four-man team for the Euro/Africa Zone Group One clash in Glasgow.
Despite being a novice in the competition, Goodall is now the highest ranked player Lloyd has to choose from following Murray’s withdrawal from the tie with a virus.
Until recently, the Basingstoke-born player might have crumbled under the weight of expectation, but sessions with Lawn Tennis Association psychologist Roberto Forzoni have toughened him up.
‘Tennis hasn’t really been my problem. It’s been the mental side of my game,’ Goodall explained. ‘It’s only just recently that I’ve started to work on that and I feel that’s the key to my game now and that’s probably why I’m playing a lot better. ‘I think I was putting too much pressure on myself. ‘At the moment, it’s going well, and I’m happy and positive about where I’m going. ‘I’m working with a guy at the LTA – a guy called Roberto – and he’s brilliant.’
Asked how he feels he will respond being the number one player in the team in Murray’s absence, Goodall said he was ready to be ‘thrown in at the deep end’. He certainly thrived in the high-pressure environment Lloyd manufactured last week when the play-offs for a place on the team were held. Goodall and Chris Eaton were the outstanding performers at Roehampton and both were among the five-man party that travelled to Scotland for the tie at the Braehead Arena. Goodall – who qualified for both Wimbledon and the US Open back in 2006 – has also enjoyed a productive year, climbing from the high 300s in the rankings to a career-best 192. One of Goodall, Eaton, Ross Hutchins, Colin Fleming and Jamie Ward will miss out when Lloyd finalises his team this morning. Whoever he picks, it will be one of the most inexperienced line-ups ever to represent Britain, with doubles specialist Hutchins the only one of them to have played a rubber. It is no exaggeration to say the withdrawal of world number four Murray has seen Britain plummet from the position of odds-on favourites to marginal underdogs. Goodall said: ‘We’re all rookies at this sort of event. ‘But I think all of us are ready to show what we’ve got and this is a great opportunity for us to do that. ‘Obviously, it’s a huge disappointment not to have Andy here and we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do.’