By Ros Satar
(July 19, 2015) LONDON, UK – In a rollercoaster race to the finish, Andy Murray overcame the worst possible start in the fourth rubber to clinch Great Britain’s place in the Davis Cup quarter-final against France.
From the outset though, it looked as though the crowds would be getting their money’s worth as a sluggish looking Murray floundered early against a far fresher looking Gilles Simon at the start of the first set.
The Frenchman seemed completely impenetrable on his serve, attacking well and out maneuvering Murray at every turn as he quickly consolidated an early break before wrapping up the first set.
While it was imperative that Murray got off to a quick start, getting broken in the first game of the second set was not in the plan, and there was many a furrowed British brow, as he struggled to stay with the Frenchman who was getting the better of the ling rallies, and at one stage reduced Murray to sink to his knees in despair. Even when he did get the break back, the Brit looked too exhausted to even bring forth a fist-pump, despite the crowd willing him on, yet somehow he consolidated.
Even in the tie-break, it looked as through the French were running away with it, with a 4-1 lead, but a couple of lacklustre points from Simon put Murray right back in it. Leveling the set saw a bit of a reaction, but there was still an awfully long way for him to go.
Murray was on the attack though, racing through the third set now that the momentum was shifting towards this side of the English Channel. But a bad slip after being broken at the start of the fourth set put the French at a disadvantage. Simon had already taken a tumble when his knee gave way as he landed from a serve, but after rolling his ankle, his movement was impaired as the fourth set got away from him completely. That being said, it took Murray four match points to wind up the tie 4-6, 7-6(5, 6-3, 6-0 and for Great Britain to win 3-1.
Of course once again the doubles was the pivotal point, no matter how many times team captains want to play it down, and at one stage it must have felt as though the entire tie was France versus The Murray family.
French team captain Arnaud Clement said: “It was every time a little push from the British team, a little bit more solid. A lot of sets during this weekend, just can see one or two points are missing and maybe can change but it was always in the same for the British team. So it’s just the British was a little bit more solid than us, and deserve this win.”
Leon Smith said: “It’s incredible how he find a way to dig as deep as he can. It is phenomenal what he finds within himself, a set and a break down and that tiebreak, 4-1 down but he fights and he fights and he fights and after a couple of those long brutal rallies, to be able to get up and serve again, ready for the next point. I was sitting there thinking this is why he does the hard work, those moments when he digs into his dark places of training and he finds a way to do it because his legs and his heart have been conditioned to do it, and he does it better than anyone. I have nothing but immense respect.”
For Murray it will be another tough battle to go deep at the US Open, and then face two if not three vital matches, if Britain are to keep their hopes of a place in their first Davis Cup final since 1936.
He said: “The memories that you have from those matches, like playing Glasgow earlier in the year, I mean I’m sure the whole team would agree the atmosphere was absolutely unbelievable there. You don’t get that in any other event, so you have a lot of memories from the Davis Cup and that’s one of the reasons you’re passionate to play.”
Great Britain will now play host to Australia, who fought back from 2-0 down against Kazakhstan in September, following the US Open.
Ros Satar is a British sports journalist covering tennis, and can also be found at Britwatch Sports.