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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 March 2006, 14:09 GMT
Bates praises rising star Murray
Scots star Andy Murray
Jeremy Bates feels Murray (pictured) can handle the pressure
British Davis Cup captain Jeremy Bates believes that Scottish teenager Andy Murray has the character to bring him to the top of the world game.

"Andy is a winner and you don't make or buy that type - they are natural and I personally believe they are born that way," he said.

"The qualities he has will set him apart because there are lots of good tennis players and talented athletes.

"But it is the heart which makes the difference and his is huge."

Bates is sure the 18-year-old, who claimed his first tour title with victory over Australia's Lleyton Hewitt in the final of the SAP Open in California last month, has the winning mentality.

Andy wants to be on the big courts playing against the best in the world
Jeremy Bates

"He is young and has very strong opinions which he is not afraid to share, and in my opinion that is a very healthy thing," he added.

Bates believes that the biggest challenge facing Murray - who has overtaken Tim Henman as British number one - will be to handle the expectations of the British public.

"Unfortunately in this country we have to pick faults in our sportsmen though and I am sure that will start to happen to Andy at some point.

"Nick Faldo won six majors yet everyone complained that he looked miserable while doing it.

"There are one or two people in sport who have got beyond that and I would put Sir Alex Ferguson in that bracket because he won the Premiership, FA Cup and Champions League in one season, but even now people say he is starting to lose it.

"As a country we like bad news and to set people up before knocking them down so if that were to happen to Andy he would just have to bear it until he comes through it."

Bates feels Murray has handled any pressure he has come under admirably and insists the SAP Open champion will adore all the attention that has come with his accomplishments.

"What you deal with in terms of pressure you either love or hate and Andy definitely wants to be on the big courts playing against the best in the world.

"You either embrace that or wither away and shrink and the reason he plays tennis is because he enjoys everything that goes along with it.

"Anyone who says they don't like being asked questions or having 20 cameras shoved in their face, believe me they do.

"They would far rather have that attention than not be spoken to at all."


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