ANDY Murray has once again written his name into the history books of British tennis as he led his nation to their first David Cup title since 1936, a time when King Edward VIII was still sitting comfortably on the throne. In doing so, Murray became only the fourth player to win an incredible 11 matches in one Davis Cup campaign, 8 singles and 3 doubles alongside his brother Jamie, en route to lifting the famous 115 year-old trophy.
Having beaten strong teams from the USA (3-2), France (3-1) and Australia (3-2) in their own backyard, Great Britain knew they would have to play exceptionally well against a cohesive Belgium side in Ghent. Kyle Edmund, playing in his first match in the campaign, got off to a fairytale start as he took the first two sets against Belgium’s number 1, David Goffin. Unfortunately for Edmund, Goffin refused to keel over and fought back valiantly to win the match 3-6, 1-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-0 and give Belgium the lead and momentum. Murray overcame Ruben Bemelmans in the second match of the tie to even up proceedings in a trouble-free 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 win to set up the tie perfectly for the doubles at 1-1 the next day.
Andy then combined with his older brother Jamie then for a third time in the campaign to push Great Britain in front as they maintained their 100% record together in this year’s tournament, brushing Goffin and partner Steve Darcis aside 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. The fourth match between Andy Murray and Goffin was always going to be the pivotal moment of the tie as teams traditionally place their strongest singles players fourth to either ensure they can secure or level the tie with one match still to play. Despite playing incredibly well himself, Goffin struggled to make any severe inroads against the Murray serve, only breaking him once throughout the match. In what was a fitting end, Murray produced an incredible backhand lob against the run of the point that dropped inches inside the baseline to secure the game, set, match, and Great Britain’s historic victory. The Scot defeated the tireless Goffin 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 which gave GB an unassailable 3-1 lead in the best-of-five tie to spark mass celebrations on the Ghent clay.
Great Britain’s win marks the inconceivable turnaround achieved by team captain Leon Smith who was appointed in April 2010. At the time, GB were one loss away against Turkey to being relegated to the fourth tier of the Davis Cup, epitomising the outstanding work Smith has done with the team to turn their fortunes around. Smith, who was 11 year-old Murray’s first ever tennis coach, managed to lure his old protégé back in to the Davis Cup team having not played many ties in the recent past. Smith has managed to rediscover the pride and passion in his players to represent their nation in the Davis Cup which has been an essential part of the revival with Murray describing the win as “probably the most emotional I’ve been after a win” and “I didn’t know that would ever be possible [to win this competition]”.
It is now widely hoped and believed that the triumph, putting Great Britain at the pinnacle of male tennis for the first time in 79 years, will inspire the next generation to sustain tennis as a major sporting powerhouse for the indefinite future. Finally, after becoming the first male from Great Britain to win a major in the open era when he won the US Open in 2012, the first Britain to win Wimbledon in 77 years, claiming gold at London 2012 and now spearheading his nation to Davis Cup success, Andy Murray has to be considered one of the greatest ever tennis stars that Britain has ever produced alongside legends Fred Perry and William Renshaw. Despite being born in the most competitive era of male tennis in the history of the game, at the age of 28, there is absolutely no doubt that Andy Murray has plenty more to add to his already glistening career.
Featured image: Sky Sports