November 27, 2015
Andy Murray was in no mood to be denied Davis Cup glory, as he won his opening rubber 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 against Ruben Bemelmans. In doing so, he levelled the final at 1-1 after the first day.
Yet the manner of Murray’s straight sets victory wasn’t as smooth as it might seem, with a set point desperately saved, temper tantrums and recriminations from the volatile Scot before he got the job done.
Murray had almost lost his voice by the time he commented: ‘The third set was tricky but I fought hard in the end and I was happy to get off in straight sets.
‘The crowd were getting quite wound up, which is normal, they’re trying to put you off while you’re serving, but you have to use that to your advantage. It’s going to be a tough two days ahead.’
Nevertheless, the win makes Murray’s record 9-0 so far in this Davis Cup. And if he can stretch that unbeaten total to eleven by Sunday, then only John McEnroe in the early 1980s will have achieved such faultlessness.
Bemelmans played some eye-catching tennis, yet still he was no match in the end for Murray’s technical excellence and sheer determination. Even so, the Brit with the perfect record was no angel.
The contest was bad-tempered at times, with words exchanged between the Davis Cup captains and two warnings for Murray for audible obscenities, the second of which resulted in the loss of a point.
Murray complained to the umpire more than once, apparently questioning how anyone could have heard him swear in the deafening din of the indoor stadium – but his protests were to no avail.
Murray then complained to the umpire about crowd noise as he was about to serve. The Belgium supporters reacted by hissing and booing him.
Andy promptly lost his service game, even though the referee had warned the Belgian camp for the poor sportsmanship that partly led to that loss. Typically, Murray broke straight back, expressing his cold fury through his racquet this time.
GB captain Leon Smith said later: ‘Andy’s so experienced, he doesn’t need me holding his hand, but it was difficult for him when we were already one down and his opponent as swinging away like that.’
The favourite could see the home straight. And yet he had to save a set point when he double-faulted at 4-5, before finally sprinting to the finish like the superb athlete he is.
Earlier, 20-year-old Kyle Edmund had been enjoying a two set lead and looked on the verge of victory until David Goffin came storming back to take the opening rubber in five.
Defeat was a heart-breaker for the rookie Brit, who had come so close to becoming the first Davis Cup finalist to win on his debut.
Goffin, ranked 16th in the world, said: “His forehand was so heavy, if he’d done it for one more set I would have said “bravo.” But I’m pleased with my comeback and happy I got the first point for Belgium.’
Kyle Edmund, ranked 100, said: ‘I’m so disappointed I couldn’t get it done but I’ve just got to learn from it. It’s unfortunate it got away from me but this was very intense and something I’ve never experienced, the crowd was so loud. I thought I did pretty well but I’m disappointed I couldn’t get it done in the end.’
Two more points for GB will seal glory, though. The same is true for Belgium. Doubles tomorrow, then Sunday will decide everything.
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