Davis Cup hero Leon Smith to lead GB team until end of 2018
The Scot succeeded John Lloyd in 2010 after Britain had suffered the ignominy of defeat by Lithuania and were on the verge of relegation to the competition’s bottom tier.
Five years later Smith achieved what had appeared impossible and guided his country to a first Davis Cup title in 79 years with victory over Belgium.
After signing a deal until the end of 2018, which will also see him remain as the Lawn Tennis Association’s head of men’s tennis, Smith said: “It is a huge honour and privilege to continue captaining our Davis Cup team.
“We have achieved so much over the last six years and becoming world champions last year will be the highlight of my career.”
Smith’s initial appointment was greeted with far from universal acclaim, with the cynical view that his background as Andy Murray’s childhood coach had landed him a role he was not ready for.
But the 40-year-old quickly began to win over the doubters as, largely without Murray, he coaxed career-best performances out of Britain’s lesser players as they worked their way back up the standings.
Smith has proved himself no less adept on the big stage.
He is, of course, lucky to have Murray, but it is clear how much respect the world No 2 has for a man he has known for 20 years.
Having won the competition, questions were raised about how enduring Murray and Smith’s commitment would be.
Smith has previously expressed a wish to coach on the tour but insisted he never considered leaving a role he clearly loves, and Murray, too, is fully on board once again.
He battled for nearly five hours to defeat Kei Nishikori in Birmingham on Sunday and earn Britain victory over Japan.
A quarter-final against Novak Djokovic’s Serbia in July will be the pair’s biggest test yet.
Smith, who has lost only two of his 15 ties, said: “I’m really excited at the opportunity to continue working with this group of players, support staff and, of course, our fans.
“Our Davis Cup journey has captured the imagination of so many people across the country and I’m looking forward to using our Davis Cup successes as a way to get more kids playing tennis.”
Keeping hold of Smith is a coup for the LTA and chief executive Michael Downey said: “As I said after Leon led the Great Britain team to the title in Ghent, we are lucky to have the world’s best Davis Cup captain lead our nation.
“We are delighted to extend his contract further as we continue to build on this run of success.”