Murray sends Great Britain into Davis Cup final, to face Belgium
Andy Murray fired Great Britain into its first Davis Cup final in 37 years after his defeat of Bernard Tomic handed the Brits an unassailable 3-1 lead in their World Group semi-final clash against Australia, setting up a final showdown against Belgium.tennis Updated: Sep 21, 2015 11:37 IST
World number three Andy Murray fired Great Britain into its first Davis Cup final in 37 years after his defeat of Bernard Tomic handed the Brits an unassailable 3-1 lead in their World Group semi-final clash against Australia at Glasgow's Emirates Arena on Sunday, setting up a final showdown against Belgium, who defeated Argentina to enter their first final in 111 years.
Murray secured the final berth with his 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 win in the first reverse singles rubber to clinch the best-of-five tie after playing three days in succession. The 28-year-old's 25th win from 27 Davis Cup singles matches, which took under two hours, secured a first victory over old rivals Australia since 1978. It puts nine-time winners Britain on the verge of a historic first title triumph since 1936, when Fred Perry and Bunny Austin sealed a 3-2 victory over Australia at Wimbledon.
"Winning for your country and your team-mates means a lot. The crowd were unbelievable from the first ball to the last," Murray told the BBC. "I didn't feel great the whole weekend to be honest, I've been struggling with my back, but I just tried to disguise it."
Great Britain captain Leon Smith hailed the impact of former Wimbledon and US Open champion Murray. "He's quite good isn't he? It's pretty amazing watching Andy's work over the whole weekend, he fights so hard and he's got the quality. He executed it perfectly today."
Britain have now become the first nation to defeat the three other Grand Slam-hosting nations in consecutive ties since they beat Australia, USA and France en route to winning the Davis Cup in 1933. It is a remarkable turnaround for a British team that has risen from being on the verge of relegation to Europe/Africa Group III, the lowest level of the competition, in 2010, to being World Group finalists in 2015.
Murray, who won both singles matches and the doubles with brother Jamie, is now looking to become only the fourth player ever to win the Davis Cup, Olympic gold and multiple Grand Slams.
Australia were looking to reach their first Davis Cup final since winning the trophy for a 28th time in 2003. Australian captain Wally Masur had hinted on Saturday he was thinking of throwing veteran Lleyton Hewitt in against the two-time Grand Slam winner to see if the former world number one could deliver a famous victory. However, he opted to keep faith with world number 23 Tomic, who had delivered success in his opening singles encounter with Dan Evans on Friday.
Murray opened the tie with an ace and it set the tone for the early part of the set as some incredible returns saw him break Tomic in the fourth game. Murray survived one break point as he was serving for the set at 5-3, but a double fault followed by an unforced error allowed Tomic to break back.
However, Murray recovered and with Tomic serving to send the set into a tie-break, the Brit found himself with three set points. The 22-year-old Australian saved the first two but a brilliant drop shot left Tomic stranded and sealed the first set for Murray.
The two-time Grand Slam winner at times appeared unplayable in the second set. After breaking the Tomic serve early on, Murray held his service game to love to seal the second set 6-3. With the finishing line in sight, Murray found some extra reserves to step up a gear in the third set and twice broke Tomic to serve for the match with his opponent sending a return wide to seal the win and send the home crowd wild.
Belgium's Steve Darcis celebrates after defeating Argentina's Federico Delbonis during the deciding rubber of the Davis Cup World Group semifinal in Brussels, on September 20, 2015. (AP Photo)
Belgium in final after 111 years
Belgium reached their first title match since 1904 with a tense 3-2 win over Argentina in Brussels with Steve Darcis, the world number 64, needing a fourth match point to defeat Federico Delbonis 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, 7-6 (3).
In Brussels, world number 15 David Goffin kept Belgium afloat against Argentina with a routine 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 win over Diego Schwartzmann to level their semi-final at 2-2.
Darcis, 31, then sealed victory for a Belgian side which had knocked out defending champions Switzerland in the first round.
"It's one of the biggest moments of my career. The atmosphere was unbelievable. Inside it was so hard to stay calm," said Darcis, who famously dumped Rafael Nadal out of Wimbledon in the first round in 2013.
Federer in doubt for 2016
In the play-offs, where the winners will feature in the elite World Group in 2016, Federer defeated Thiemo de Bakker 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 as Switzerland wrapped up victory over the Netherlands in Geneva.
But Federer, 34, who led Switzerland to a first Davis Cup title in 2014, then hinted that he was rethinking his future in the tournament after a 16-year career. "My idea was never to win it twice, the idea was always to win it once," Federer was quoted as saying on the Davis Cup website.
"I see this tie in isolation. Next year is an Olympic year. The summer will be very long and packed with highlights. It's all a question of priorities. I can't play everything and of course if I do play Davis Cup other things have to drop out."
In Tashkent, Jack Sock defeated Denis Istomin 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 to give 32-time champions United States victory over Uzbekistan, while the Czech Republic, champions in 2012 and 2013, saw off India in sweltering New Delhi when Jiri Vesely thrashed Yuki Bhambri 6-3, 7-5, 6-2.
Italy also preserved their World Group status when world number 28 Fabio Fognini defeated Teymuraz Gabashvili 7-6 (4), 6-3, 7-6 (5) to secure victory against Russia in Irkutsk. In Gydnia, Poland clinched a World Group spot for the first time when Michal Przysiezny defeated Slovakia's Norbert Gombos in the deciding fifth rubber 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
Philipp Kohlschreiber won his third point of the weekend when a 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 win over Victor Estrella Burgos secured Germany's win over the Dominican Republic. Borna Coric steered Croatia to an unassailable 3-1 lead over Brazil in Florianapolis when Thomaz Bellucci was forced to retire with Coric leading 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (4), 4-0. Croatia will be in the World Group for the 13th time in the last 14 years.
The remaining World Group was won 3-2 by Japan over Colombia in Pereira. Go Soeda beat Alejandro Falla 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 in the decider, after Japan's star player Kei Nishikori equalised the tie with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win over Santiago Giraldo.
First Published: Sep 21, 2015 11:19 IST