Andy Murray Secures Davis Cup Quarterfinal Berth for Team GB
Glenys Furness and Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Team GB was going to have two chances to advance to the Davis Cup quarterfinals in Sunday singles action, and their leader Andy Murray ensured they only needed one to get the job done. Murray went head to head with the Japanese #1 Kei Nishikori in a nearly five hour thriller in Birmingham, and came away the victory to secure a 3-1 tie victory for team GB.
Andy Murray d. Kei Nishikori 7-5 7-6(6) 3-6 4-6 6-3
Murray had won the previous two meetings against Nishikori, and lead the h2h 5-1 overall, thus he was the favorite on home court. He got off to a quick start, breaking for a 3-1 lead, after saving a break point in the opening game of the match. From there he would save another break point to go up 4-1. He was broken for the first time all weekend by Nishikori, who worked himself into the match and eventually got it to 5-5 after saving a set point. However, Murray would convert his third set point of the opening set to take it 7-5.
Nishikori was now firmly in the match at this point however, he broke Murray to open the second set, before being broken back for 2-2. The second set would then go to serve without another break point chance until Kei was serving 5-6, at which point he saved two set points and got it to a tiebreak that he lost 8-6 after having a set point chance.
With team Japan facing elimination from the World Group first round, Nishikori didn’t give an inch, forcing a break point chance at 1-2, and going on to break Murray for 5-3, eventually taking the third set 6-3 without facing a break point. In the fourth set, Murray upped his game and generated two early break point chances in two different games, but Nishikori held on by the skin of his teeth, and broke Murray for a 5-2 lead in two consecutive service games. Murray clearly didn’t want a fifth set, as he broke back and got it to 4-5, but Kei converted his second set point chance to send the match into a decisive fifth set.
The fifth set was a complete circus, featuring five breaks of serve, the fifth and final going to Murray’s benefit. Nishikori broke to open, and was broken twice in a row in his own right to go down 3-1. He didn’t fade though, getting it back to 2-3, before being broken one final time in a long game to go down 4-2. Nishikori fended off two match points on his own serve, but with the crowd at a fever pitch, Murray converted his fourth match point to give team GB victory in the tie.
The fifth rubber between Taro Daniel and Dan Evans was not needed, and was canceled. Team GB will now travel to Serbia and face them in the quarterfinals as they continue the quest to repeat as Davis Cup champions.