Great Britain, led by the sensational Andy Murray, made the perfect start to the defence of their Davis Cup title with a comprehensive 3-1 victory over Japan in first round at the Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham.
The hotly anticipated tie saw the holders and hosts sent out their star player Murray for the opening game, as the World No.2 faced the World No.87 Taro Daniel. The 28-year-old has been out of action since the start of February after the birth of his first child, but showed few signs of rust as he cruised to a 6-1 6-3 6-1 victory.
Japan levelled the scored at 1-1 later in the day as World No.6 Kei Nishikori beat Dan Evans 6-3 7-5 7-6 (7-3) in a superb contest.
On day two the Andy Murray joined forces with brother Jamie to but Britain back into the lead as they beat Yoshihito Nishioka and Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-3 6-2 6-4. This win meant that if Andy Murray could overcome Kei Nishikori, Britain would make it into the quarter-finals.
Murray and Nishikori play out five-set Davis Cup thriller
Sunday’s clash between two of the world’s finest players was without doubt the best match of the tie. The packed Barclaycard Arena was buzzing with anticipation, with Union Jacks draped all over the fabulous arena.
The players, particularly Murray, were greeted by huge roars as they stepped onto the court. The Scot made a good start to the match and raced into a 3-1 lead, but Nishikori battled back to level the set at 4-4. Some stunning rallies and defensive shots from Murray proved enough to see him through the opener 7-5 as took a one set lead.
These two exceptional athletes slugged out another outstanding set, the crowd were in awe of some of the shots being played. Nishikori proving his mental strength and silencing the raucous crowd as the second-set headed to a tie break; Murray came out on top to take a two-set lead.
The third set saw Japan stage a fightback, as their star player produced some classy shots to take a 5-3 lead, before seeing out the set to make it 2-1. It was a similar story in set four as Nishikori took the set 4-6 to set up a decider.
The crowd could sense that the momentum had swung away from Murray and the tension was evident on the faces of everyone. But the renowned stamina of the former Wimbledon champion came into play as three consecutive breaks saw him win the set 6-3 to send Britain into the next round.
That’s now 14 consecutive Davis Cup wins for Murray, what an astonishing record.
Murray delighted with Davis Cup win
After the match Murray said: “The crowd helped for sure. Physically I struggled a little at the end of the third set and a little in fourth.
“I was a little bit calmer in the fifth set. I was panicking a little bit at the end of the third when I was struggling physically, I didn’t quite know what to do.
“Last year was incredible every time I played in the Davis Cup. This team did something special and I would like to do the same again this year.
“Obviously the next match will be extremely tough and if we stick together and fight we have a chance.”
Members of the Eventmasters team enjoyed some outstanding hospitality inside the Barclaycard Arena on the superb final day. The food was excellent and the seats were some of the finest in the house providing unrivalled views of the brilliant five set match.
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