By Ros Satar
(July 18, 2015) LONDON, UK – Great Britain gave themselves the best chance of advancing in the Davis Cup since the 1980’s after they beat the French to set up a 2-1 lead going into the final day.
Although Britain had nominated doubles specialists Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot, there was a widely held consensus that in order for the Brits to give themselves the best possible chance, Andy Murray had to play.
Yet he himself had said that he would have to be very honest with the team about how he felt after a long European swing, which saw him win his first titles on clay, Queen’s and then bowing out at the semi-final stage of Wimbledon.
His older brother Jamie had the best success of his career to date, making the Wimbledon men’s doubles final with his Australian partner John Peers. He, along with Inglot had paired up in Glasgow earlier in the year, but lost to the Bryan Brothers in a close affair against the United States.
Right down to the wire, the decision was made that the Murray brothers would face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Nicolas Mahut in Saturday’s pivotal rubber, and early on it looked as though this might not be the wisest choice, as Andy Murray was broken in the opening game of the match, the French not relinquishing the advantage.
The second set was a much tighter affair between the sides, with the Brits finally earning their first break point to hit the front for the first time in the match, and with a far more boisterous crowd than yesterday, the atmosphere was electric as Britain leveled.
There was drama to come through, as the court has had very little time to recover to be ready for the tie, and over the course of the two days the players have been taking tumbles. The younger Murray had already tweaked his groin in his first match, and an awkward slip rendered him face down in the grass, not to mention some embarrassingly painful looking manipulation afterward.
Yet as the pair battled through a tense tie-break to secure a 2-1 lead, Murray minor was leaping around pumped and getting the crowd behind him. It must have worked as the brothers quickly notched up a 5-0 lead, with the French registering a game on the board, and even pushing Jamie’s serve to a break point, before the doubles specialist stole the day with the final winner on match point – final score 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-1
It was a subdued Arnaud Clement who met with the press to defend his choices, and of course he can field Richard Gasquet in place of Gilles Simon tomorrow for the fourth rubber, leaving Tsonga to face James Ward if it comes to a fifth rubber.
Definitely not subdued was Jamie Murray whose confidence after his Wimbledon run spilled over as he made the most of being chief speaker after today’s result.
He said: “I think the crowd were great from first to the last point. Obviously that tie-break proved critical. I don’t really even remember much about it to be honest other than Andy getting that serve back and Mahut diving, and turning round and seeing Andy six feet off the ground. But you know, that’s the thing [about] home support – it’s brilliant to have it and I think as long as we’re playing home ties, everyone that’s coming to watch us should be there and cheering as loud as they can and trying to help the players, because it does really help us to perform as best we possibly can.”
Andy now has to try and get himself in gear for the earlier start on Sunday, especially with mixed reports about weather closing in, although no one wants this to push through into next week.
He said: “Got to make sure tonight conserve as much energy as possible, go back, recover properly. Get a good night’s sleep and hopefully come out tomorrow and feel good when I get up. Obviously right now after that match, it’s hard not to feel good.
“But I’ve also played matches where you do have a massive high, a massive adrenalin rush during the match and in the evening you can feel quite fatigued as well. I’ve been through that before. Just deal with whatever cards I’m dealt tomorrow when I wake up and hopefully play a good match.”
The final day starts with Murray facing either Richard Gasquet or Gilles Simon in the fourth rubber, and if it comes down to a fifth and decisive rubber, James Ward will face Tsonga.
Ros Satar is a British sports journalist covering tennis, and can also be found at Britwatch Sports.