PARIS (Reuters) - British number one Andy Murray believes Gala Leon’s appointment as Spain’s Davis Cup captain was handled “horribly”.
The British number one publicly congratulated Leon on Twitter when she was announced as Carlos Moya’s successor in September to become Spain’s first female Davis Cup captain.
Yet Rafa Nadal’s coach and uncle Toni said her appointment could create problems “at dressing room level” because she had “zero relations” with the leading Spanish players.
Former Wimbledon champion Murray, who caused a stir when he chose Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo as his coach after he split with Ivan Lendl earlier this year, said he had spoken to various Spanish players about the issue.
“I have spoken to the players about it, and it sounds like the way it was handled was done horribly,” Murray, who will be playing on the tour for a sixth successive week at the Paris Masters this week as he tries to secure one of the four remaining berths at the ATP Tour World Finals, said.
“It seems like the (Spanish) Federation and the players weren’t getting along before the appointment was made.”
Speaking to Reuters separately, he added: ”None of the players were consulted about who the captain was going to be. The players wanted (Carlos) Moya to be the captain, and this year he was the captain.
”And then the players ended up not playing and not showing up so the federation were like ‘if you aren’t going to show up, then we’ll pick whoever we want’.
“So it was a bit messy and regardless if it was a man or a woman. Communications between the players and the federation clearly wasn’t there.”
Moya quit after five-times champions Spain, fielding a weakened team, were relegated from the elite World Group for the first time in 18 years after a playoff loss in Brazil.
Spanish number two David Ferrer backed up Murray’s version of events.
“The decision was too premature, too quick, without consulting the players which was always the case in the past,” he told Spanish radio on Tuesday.
”To do things well the best thing is appoint a captain who has a good feeling (with the players), who knows men’s tennis.
“It’s not about the fact that Gala Leon is a woman, that is irrelevant. There are (male) players who deserved the job more, who have more experience.”
However, if the Spanish players want to pick someone’s brains on how to work successfully with a woman, they can turn to Murray.
The Scot, who missed the closing stages of the 2013 season following back surgery, has won three titles in the last five weeks to climb to eighth in the world after spending a short spell outside the top 10.
“For me, I‘m more than happy to work with a man or a woman, providing there is a relationship there between the two of you when you speak about tennis, that there’s an understanding,” he added.
”Similar understanding about the game. The things you need to work on, that’s very important. And the only way you can gauge that is the way you communicate with that person.
“I don’t know how much the Spanish players have communicated with Gala Leon, but in my opinion I’d want to communicate first with whoever I want to work with.”
Additional reporting by Iain Rogers in Madrid, editing by Martyn Herman