November 20, 2019
Andy Murray flirted with defeat and then dug deep for victory.
It was typical of the British hero’s attitude towards the Davis Cup. And the Olympics too for that matter.
Murray just loves playing team tennis for GB. He won’t be beaten – even when defeat looks inevitable.
Tallon Griekspoor isn’t a big name in tennis. But he had beaten Stan Wawrinka and Karen Khachanov on better days.
The world number 179 must have felt confident he was about to add Murray to his list of big-name scalps.
The Scot trailed 1-4 in the final set. And even after he clawed his way back to force a tie-break, he was soon back in big trouble.
Few would have backed Andy at 1-4 down in the decisive breaker either.
Maybe fatherhood for a third time had taken its toll. Maybe son Teddy was still an understandable distraction in the back of Murray’s mind.
Andy had already admitted he was heavier than ever before. He hadn’t managed to work off the last two kilos amassed during his paternity leave.
But sometimes sheer guts and determination can get a former champion out of jail.
Defensive instinct takes over. And someone like Murray manages to break an opponent’s confidence simply by hanging in there. Then he turns defence into attack and ends it.
So it was for Andy in Madrid. Some of his superhuman baseline saves brought the house down in the final breaker. Desperate and brilliant in equal measure.
An ace to bring up match point. Deep, persistent backhands to clinch the match. He punched the air and let out a defiant roar.
Murray had triumphed 6-7 (7-9), 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) to huge cheers from the British crowd. The hero couldn’t believe he had done it and seemed reluctant to take credit.
Murray admitted: ‘I’m obviously relieved just now. I don’t think I deserved to win.
‘I fought extremely hard. But he dictated a lot of the points. I put the ball in and had to find a way to win. That’s what I did.
‘The atmosphere was one of the things players were worried about in a neutral venue. But both sets of fans were fantastic.’
Victory for Dan Evans against Robin Haase would have made the final rubber unnecessary.
The popular player from Solihull served for the match but eventually lost 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 4-6 to leave the tie against the Dutch in the balance.
Sir Andy had already taken the starring role as GB’s knight in shining armour. Now we waited to see if his brother Jamie could help seal the deal in the doubles.
Whatever the result, the epic drama tennis gives us weekly is truly astounding.
No wonder Andy Murray was determined to find his way back into that general drama if he could.
Watching Andy in fighting form like this once more is a pleasure we never expected.
We can’t wait to see him perform again on the biggest stage of all – at Wimbledon 2020.