September 19, 2015
Andy and Jamie Murray took Great Britain to within touching distance of the Davis Cup final with a stunning five-set victory over Lleyton Hewitt and Sam Groth.
The Brits now lead the tie 2-1 with just the final two singles matches to go on Sunday. It would take an extraordinary reversal of fortunes on the last day for the favourites to be denied.
A tired-looking Andy said: ‘It was an incredible match but we did well to come back again after having match point in the fourth-set tie-break. We kept creating chances and battling away and we managed to come up with that last break to get there.’
Jamie said: ‘We kept fighting, we let it slip a bit in the fourth set which was frustrating but we got right back on it. From the first point to the last it was so noisy. It was magic. For us it’s amazing to come back to Scotland and for me to play with Andy, well, I don’t get the chance very often.’
Jamie looked close to tears of relief, while Andy added: ‘We needed to keep the energy up in the final set and we got a couple of quick holds and managed to break. By getting ahead again at the end the crowd got right into it. I’ll jump in the ice bath now, see the physio; it is as emotionally draining as it was physically, so I need to relax.’
Andy Murray needs to beat Bernard Tomic, his likely opponent in the first match on Sunday, to send GB into the final. It would now be a major upset if he fails to do so.
The Murray brothers certainly didn’t do it the easy way. Having lost the first set 4-6, they managed to hit back and take the next 6-3. But just when it seemed the momentum was theirs, the Scottish pair lost focus – and before they knew it they were trailing 1-4 in the third.
That was when the Brits put together a period of dominance that might just send them all the way to the Davis Cup final. They won the next five games with stunning combinations, Andy’s return and Jamie’s work at the net creating a potent cocktail as they ran away with the set 6-4.
Back came the Aussies once more. Groth, whose form had been patchy in the third, produced some of his best tennis and suddenly the Murrays were on the back foot again.
They had to claw their way into the fourth after a lightning start from the Aussies. Jamie Murray faced two break points on his serve as Hewitt and Groth looked to go 4-2 ahead. With bravery and precision, doubles specialist Jamie held his nerve and came up with one strong serve after another. The Brits were able to level and stay in the set, but their troubles weren’t over.
Hewitt has played in the Davis Cup for 17 years, and he wasn’t about to go down without a fight in the key doubles rubber.
Glasgow fell a little quieter when the Aussie battlers edged ahead again, to put further pressure on the home-grown pairing. Jamie Murray’s serve showed signs of a stress fracture when he faced three set points at 0-40. Somehow he pulled off the Houdini act yet again to level at 5-5.
The brothers then set about attacking Hewitt’s serve and broke with typical determination, to leave Andy serving for the match. Incredibly he was broken by some superhuman work from Hewitt, even though the Brits were two points from victory.
Brilliant work from Hewitt in the breaker, as he demonstrated all the craft of a wily veteran, saw the Aussies take it 8-6 against the odds, having saved a match point. Groth had more than held his own when the chips were down too.
Murray held his serve at the start of the fifth and then it was down to Sam Groth, the man capable of a 163 mph serve, to do the same. Amazingly the Murray brothers broke to love to take command, as the least experienced man on court struggled to maintain his composure.
Jamie seized the moment to hold and suddenly the Scottish pair were 3-0 ahead when they might have been having doubts.
Still the Aussies weren’t done. They won the next two games to put the deciding set back on serve. It was getting harder to pick a winner, especially when the Murray brothers squandered three break points and failed to regain control.
But Groth, for all that power, was still vulnerable on serve, and it was he who succumbed a second time when it came to the crunch, enabling the Murray brothers to win the final set 6-4 and celebrate with a fraternal embrace.
Somehow you felt the British were always going to prevail in the end. The Murray brothers simply couldn’t lose such a big match together in Scotland – it would have hurt too much. And if Andy holds his nerve again in the singles on Sunday, GB will face either Argentina or Belgium in the final in November.
The last time GB won the Davis Cup was way back in 1936. Could this be their year?