A new drought has ended for Great Britain. For the first time in 34 years, the country who has been one of the greatest of the game in their glory days is back into the Davis Cup semifinals, thanks to a weekend signed Murray… and Murray.
In fact, this weekend’s triumph is the feat of three Scotsmen: Andy Murray, Jamie Murray, and Leon Smith. If the Murray brothers won the tie for Great Britain on the court, Smith’s input is not to be neglected, as he has, in the five years of his captaincy, built a team which has gotten out of the Group 2 (end of 2011), has come back into the World Group for the first time since 2008 (end of 2013), and has now reached the last four of the world for the first time since 1981.
A long-awaited return to which Andy Murray has put the difficult end on Sunday, triumphing 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-0 over Gilles Simon, thus sealing the locals’ 3-1 win against France.
The road to triumph was not an easy one for the world number three, who started the match playing with difficulty, having issues keeping up with the relentless pace of the Frenchman and establishing his own game, quickly down a break, then a set, then a set and a break.
It is in the middle of the second set that the tide turned for Murray, who broke back in the eighth game and, as he did in all the matches this weekend, undermined the confidence and rhythm of his rival by winning a crucial tiebreak.
Unable to recover from this blow, Simon quickly went down a double break in the third set, before getting close to turn the course of the set again, recovering one of the breaks in the fourth game, but to no avail. Murray broke again in the ninth game to take a two sets to one lead, and quickly broke the world number 11 again in his first service game of the fourth set.
Alas, the match’s efforts ended on a very sad note for Gilles Simon, who took a nasty slip (one of the many taken by the players over the weekend) and badly rolled his ankle. Unable to run, Simon still continued to fight as well as he could, but there was nothing he could do. Serving to stay in the match, the Frenchman still managed to save three match points, but could not save the fourth, and Andy Murray triumphed. Great Britain was through to the semifinals.
At the end of the match, physically, mentally, and emotionally drained, Andy Murray collapsed, in tears, on his courtside bench, comforted by Smith, who said of his number one player, in his on-court interview: “It is amazing. As you sit and watch the match unfold it is incredible how he finds a way to dig as deep as he can. It is phenomenal what he finds within himself.”
As for Murray, although spent, he was very happy. “The weekend has been fantastic”, said the Scot. “We are punching above our weight here and are now in the semi-finals. It has been a long road back from where we were a few years ago and many players have played their part in getting us back here.”
In the semifinals, Great Britain will be host to Australia.
(Photos: Corinne Dubreuil/Davis Cup)