Just a few months ago, Great Britain were celebrating their Davis Cup triumph, as Andy Murray inspired them to victory over Belgium in the final. Now the whole tournament has started again, and once again Murray ensured victory for Great Britain, as they came through a tough test against Japan, who had the world-class Kei Nishikori in their team.
The first day of action saw the spoils being shared, as both of the top-ranked players cruised to victory in their opening matches. Murray easily dispatched Taro Daniel 6-1 6-3 6-1, while Nishikori defeated Dan Evans 6-3 7-5 7-6 (7-3). The stalemate on the opening day meant that the doubles match-up was going to be crucial…
The importance of the doubles was clearly recognised by the British team, as they named Andy Murray as one of their players, along with his brother Jamie. The Japanese shockingly announced that Nishikori was not going to play in the doubles though, and this omission possibly led to their 6-3 6-2 6-4 defeat. After Britain won the doubles encounter, all Murray needed to do was beat Nishikori, and the resulting match was a Davis Cup classic.
After the first two sets, it looked like Murray had the game in the bag. The first set was won 7-5, while the second was won on a tie-break. Murray showed huge grit and determination to win both, however it was then the turn of the Japanese player to show how much he wanted to win the match. What followed was a massive swing in momentum, as Nishikori took the next two sets, and set up a mouth-watering final set decider.
As is often the case though, Murray raised his game and seamed to thrive on the pressure. His 6-3 victory in the final set ensured that he not only won the match, but that Great Britain won the entire tie. His three victories in three days also came recently after the birth of his daughter, and the Davis Cup was his first competitive match since the birth.
Things won’t get much easier for Great Britain in the next round though – in fact, they are about to get much more difficult. This is because Murray will come up against his nemesis, world number one Novak Djokovic, after Serbia came through their tie against Kazakhstan. Regardless of the result in the next round though, the win against Japan has ensured that Great Britain will be in the World Group in 2017.