November 29, 2015
Andy Murray fulfilled one of his greatest personal ambitions and sparked wild celebrations among his teammates and supporters by securing Davis Cup glory for Great Britain with a 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 victory over David Goffin on Sunday.
Not since the days of Fred Perry back in 1936 had GB won the Davis Cup. And Murray’s heavenly eleven wins in a single Davis Cup season did more than anything to write the new, long-awaited page in British tennis history.
Now only the Australian and French Opens remain missing from the amazing list of Murray triumphs. But if he had to retire tomorrow, he would probably be more than happy with his incredible collection of trophies.
Not that Andy looked happy during the marathon third game of the second set, when he launched into a four-letter tirade, seemingly aimed at his brother Jamie, who had drifted away from the team GB bench to answer a call of nature at the vital moment, and had decided to munch on a snack on the way back. Jamie had unwittingly caused his sibling an unwanted distraction. Elder brother was promptly ordered back into position, suitably admonished.
A laughing Jamie explained later: ‘I’d had to go to the toilet and all of a sudden I’m getting called back and I’m being yanked back to where I was sitting. But Andy’s given so much to get us all here and again in this match.
‘Goffin hardly played a shot wrong in the first two sets and had nothing to show for it.’
All was forgiven between the winning brothers by the end. And with their grandparents, Roy and Shirley Erskine, both watching in the crowd, that was probably just as well. This was, after all, an ecstatically happy family day and hardly the time for a four-letter bust-up.
For their part, the Belgians have won friends worldwide with their spirited contribution to the final. And there were times when it seemed they might just pull off one of the unlikeliest sporting shocks of the year. But it was fiery Andy Murray who added to his Olympic, US Open and Wimbledon titles by making his Davis Cup dream come true.
Murray came perilously close to dropping his own serve before breaking to love to go 4-2 ahead in the first. On the key point, the battling Scot showed astonishing powers of defence before conjuring a cross-court winner that seemed to dismay Goffin. The Brit consolidated with an even more impossible forehand, when most players wouldn’t have come close to retrieving the ball.
But we have to salute Goffin, who has been magnificent all through the final and might well have prevailed on home clay against anyone outside the top two or three in the world. He saved three set points at 2-5 down in the first, he never stopped fighting against a player with greater physical attributes. At 24, Goffin will only get better and we shouldn’t be surprised if he improves upon his already-impressive ranking of 16.
Murray, however, was never going to be denied the prize he has sought all Davis Cup season. Not even when he was given a time violation and faced a break point to go 0-2 down in the second did he lose his nerve. He has looked unbeatable through every stage of the campaign and he wasn’t about to fall at the final hurdle.
Knowing that Murray’s record was 62-0 for the season after he had won the first set, the rest might have seemed a formality. But remembering Kyle Edmund’s demise from a two-set lead on Friday, Murray knew he couldn’t take his foot off the gas for a second.
Indeed Goffin kept fighting and even led 5-4 in the second. But he fluffed a simple drop shot and was then broken when it mattered. Murray produced booming serves to haul himself back from 0-30 and closed the set with an incredible winner.
Still Goffin wasn’t done. He achieved his first break to go 2-0 ahead in the third, only to be broken again himself. Yet he pushed Murray to the limit in almost every rally of a scintillating match, before finally admitting defeat when he fell victim to a stunning lob after nearly three hours of stunning entertainment.
As for Belgium, they hosted the final superbly. And everyone who attended this joyous occasion should be rightly proud of the way they celebrated their love of life and love of sport.
As thoughts now turn to another wonderful sporting calendar in 2016, we know there is only one place to be when those deliciously long, London summer evenings make the home of tennis so irresistible…
COME TO WIMBLEDON 2016 – click here to see all the great stars from this, the golden era of tennis.