Murray, Tomic Davis Cup Wins Knot Up GB vs. Australia on Friday
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
Day one of the Davis Cup World Group semifinal between Great Britain and Australia featured action in the opening pair of singles rubbers. Andy Murray played Thanasi Kokkinakis in the first match of the afternoon quickly followed by Daniel Evans vs Bernard Tomic.
Andy Murray d. Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-3 6-0 6-3
The partisan British crowd welcomed their number one player on to the court with a thunderous ovation as the first rubber got under way.
The Scot, playing at home in Glasgow, would apply the early pressure after a strong opening service game by earning an early break point. Kokkinakis would save that particular one, but he soon found himself under more and more pressure. Murray pressed for a break in the Aussie’s following service game but yet again the 19 year old played the big points well.
There was a stark contrast in the service games with Murray holding easily whilst his opponent struggled. It would all be too much for Kokkinakis who after a valiant effort to save break points, lost his serve to go 4-2 down. The Brit would serve out the set much to the delight of the Glasgow crowd. Murray only lost two points on serve the entire first set.
The Brit rallied again in the second set, winning all six games for the loss of only five points to give himself what seemed like an unassailable lead. The backhand was on fire and the teenager was struggling to hit through the Brit’s defence on a slow indoor hard court.
Kokkinakis managed to get on the scoreboard early in the third but it would all be in vain. Murray would break for a fifth time in the match with a return winner. Murray was cruising, and keen to waste as little energy as possible he broke again to take the first victory for Great Britain.
Kokkinakis struggled to get anything going in this match with Murray’s defence and backhand causing him multitude of problems. The Scot also served at 76% and lost only six points behind serve. The Aussie struggled hugely behind his second serve only winning 21% behind it, compared to Murray’s 77%.
It was a fine start for Great Britain as they got the ball rolling with an easy 6-3,6-0, 6-3 victory.
“I started the match really well,” Said Murray of his performance post match.
“At the beginning he had some big serves, and once I got that break at the middle part of the first set I started to just continue to play better and he wasn’t getting as many free points on his serve after that.”
Kokkinakis also spoke of the Brit’s performance.
“There’s not too many players in the world that get close to him when he’s playing like that,” Kokkinakis said post-match.
“I just got outplayed today, just too good. I guess he knows my game and the court plays nicely for him, he was able to do what he wanted. Just shows where I need to get to. I was already motivated but that gives me more to work on and see where I’m going to get too.”
Murray also spoke of the crowd support and how they helped boost him towards victory.
“Obviously it gives you a lift,” Said Murray.
“It’s a big occasion and to have the support behind you makes, it makes a huge difference. I don’t know why that it, but it’s the case in every single sport in my opinion. I don’t know any football teams that play worse when they play at home, you know.
“It’s… all of the British performed I would say better at the Olympics when it was held in London, yeah. It’s just it helps when you have the backing of the crowd, it makes a difference.”
Bernard Tomic d. Dan Evans 6-3 7-6(2) 6-7(4) 6-4
So it was left to Tomic to restore some order on the Australian side as he attempted to extract revenge on Evans who beat him in New York two years ago.
The 23 year old Aussie was keen for his team not to go 2-0 down in the tie and earned an early break. Chances to double that lead came and went, but Tomic was comfortable on serve and managed to hold on to take the first set 6-3.
It looked like we could be in for a repeat of the previous match, only in the favour of the Aussie after a break in the opening game of the second set. But Evans had been in this situation before against Tomic, and he was keen to repeat his comeback from the US Open in 2013. The Brit managed to break back and force a second set tiebreak. But then Tomic once again took over proceedings, racing away with the breaker 7-2.
The Australian number one would yet again break early in the third set as he looked to not waste too much time on the court- But Evans had other ideas. The Brit earned 15-40 whilst Tomic served for the match but the break points were saved. One more break back chance went begging but the Brit did not give up the fight and pumped up by the Glasgow crowd he was able to extend the match at least for a little while longer.
It would go to a second consecutive tiebreak to decide the third. It was a nervy breaker but the Brit pulled out an exquisite drop shot at 4-3 to earn the first mini break. That would be enough to seal the third set as the comeback certainly gained some real traction.
But Tomic would stop that process in it’s tracks with a break a the fourth set. Evans fought to try get them back on terms in the fourth set, but instead the world number 300 would fall behind a double break. The Aussie failed to serve out the match (again), though third time would prove to be a charm for Tomic, who served it out to love to claim a 6-3, 7-6, 6-7, 6-4 victory.
“It was very emotionally tough out there, the crowd the atmosphere it drains you every point every game. “ Said Tomic
“Today was a little bit different that I’ve played in Davis Cup. It was more atmosphere, tougher situation and playing a player that was striking and felling the ball very well. So for me this moment was very tough and I was getting tired quickly out there after the third set so I’m happy I held it together in the end.”
“Yeah it was very good out thee.” Said Evans of the crowd.
“I was saying earlier that when I went out to the opening ceremony I was a bit taken back by how loud it was here. It was, you know, they do help you and spur you on when you’re down and that’s part of Davis Cup and having a home tie.”
Doubles ahead on Saturday
With the tie firmly poised at 1-1 heading into the second day, the big question is whether Andy will partner his brother Jamie Murray for the doubles. We had previously seen the world number three partner up with his brother to defeat France. Will Leon Smith bring Andy in again? Well Murray doesn’t know.
“It isn’t my decision. It’s up to the captain to decide that. You know obviously now I have the option to be picked I think as the match was quick,” said Murray.
“I think everyone on the team wants to play doubles. I mean everyone wants to try and help where they can. And ultimately the decision is up to the captain and the players who go on the court have a job to do when they get out there, but we don’t make the decisions.”
It will most certainly be big serving Sam Groth and Lleyton Hewitt for the Aussies in what could end up being the crucial match in deciding this tie. But for now it’s finely balanced at 1-1, and you can catch what happens in the doubles rubber tomorrow.