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 Nishikori7-5 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.
Team GB is defending their 2015 Davis Cup title at home in their opening tie against Japan. New father Andy Murray led them off in the opening rubber against Taro Daniel, a young Japanese player who trained in Spain.
Andy Murray d. Taro Daniel 6-1 6-3 6-1
Murray, an experienced top 5 player, looked at ease from the start, while Daniel wasn’t very comfortable on the hard court surface. Unlike most Japanese players, he much prefers clay. Daniel was broken in his first two service games, and wasn’t competitive in rallies against Murray until the fourth game of the match. Daniel would save a break point/set point chance to grab a hold finally, but Murray then held from 0-30 down to take the first set 6-1.
Daniel couldn’t compete from the baseline against Murray, and struggled mightily when trying to play more aggressively. Feeling the pressure midway in set 2, he double faulted to get broken, and went 4-3 down. Murray would then break Daniel once more to take the second set 6-3 and take full control of the match.
Set three saw an overwhelmed Daniel get broken to go down 2-0, and Murray would go on to save a break point and take a 4-1 lead. Eventually capping off the opening rubber 6-1. Murray not only gave team GB a lead at the start, he also kept the match at a very short hour and a half, meaning that he’ll be fresh for a potential doubles rubber tomorrow, and another match on Sunday against Kei Nishikori.
Daniel has a lot to improve and work on if he’s going to compete with the likes of Murray in big matches, he generated very little in the way of break point chances.
Kei Nishikori d. Dan Evans 6-3 7-5 7-6(3)
Team Japan needed their own superstar, Kei Nishikori, to even the tie and give the away team confidence heading into the weekend matches. With the pressure on, Nishikori stepped up for his country and got the job done. Dan Evans is ranked well outside of the top 100, but he’s beaten Nishikori before, and with the home fans behind him, we he wasn’t overwhelmed to face the Japanese #1. The 25 year old got the call over an injured Kyle Edmund, and he has reached one challenger final on the season.
Evans had a tough hold in the opening game of the match, but then went on to take it smoothly to 2-2. Nishikori came alive at that point, breaking for a 3-2 lead. Evans fought back to get it back to 3-3, after taking his third break point chance, but then he peppered double faults in the next game and ended up going 5-3 down. Evans fought hard to keep the opening set alive, Nishikori had four set point chances before he finally broke due to tremendous ground strokes and speed from the baseline.
In set 2 Evans had to fend off more break point chances at 1-2, and generated his own trio of break point chances at 3-3. Neither player could generate a break until late in the set though, as both had steadied their games and focus. Nishikori struggled to step up in the key moments of set two, but Evans double faulted serving 5-6, as Kei won his third set point chance of the set without hitting a return.
Rather than going into a defeated mindset, the third set was the toughest battle of all, and the most entertaining tennis of day 1. Nishikori saved two break points in his opening service game of the third set, and then Evans was broken. He broke back right away however, as Nishikori was smacking errors. Kei would then be broken again the next time he served, but Evans couldn’t maintain his newfound lead in the set, saving two break points, before losing the third.
Nishikori lost his third service game in a row at 3-3, but once against Evans couldn’t maintain his advantage when given the opportunity. Both players steadied their nerves on serve to get it to a third set tiebreak, Evans needing to save a match point in the process. Nishikori would then reel off three straight points from 4-3 in that tiebreak to capture the match and conclude the day of tennis with the tie knotted at 1-1.
For a straight set match, Evans put his heart and soul into it, and he could be called on again against Taro Daniel if the tie comes down to that.
Looking ahead to Saturday, Dominic Inglot and Andy’s brother Jamie Murray are still scheduled for the doubles against Yasutaka Uchiyama, and Yoshihito Nishioka. Andy Murray is more likely to take part in the doubles with Jamie however. Murray stated “I’d love to play the doubles if my body pulls up ok tonight”. A Murray brothers pairing would make Team GB the clear favorite for the rest of the tie, as the doubles rubber could prove decisive. Look for coverage of the doubles tie on Tennis Atlantic tomorrow!
Andy Murray broke another long drought for British tennis as he led team GB to the 2015 Davis Cup title over team Belgium in Ghent, Belgium on indoor clay. It’s the first DC title for the Brits since 1936, as Murray adds a Davis Cup trophy to his two career Grand Slam titles, capping off a top three ATP season this year (and four ATP titles, including two Masters).
Murray finished the year 8-0 in Davis Cup singles play as he didn’t drop a set against either Ruben Bemelmans on Friday, or David Goffin on Sunday, in the tie clinching fourth rubber. The skill and level of Goffin and Bemelmans just not up to par with Murray, as the balanced Belgian team lacked the star power to win the tie, and home support couldn’t put them over the top.
The key rubber came on Saturday. Tied at 1-1 after Kyle Edmund squandered a 2-0 lead to crumble in a five set defeat at the hands of Goffin. Andy and Jamie Murray won the final two sets over Goffin and Steve Darcis to capture a four set doubles rubber victory, and setup Murray to seal the deal as he did on Sunday.
The young Edmund was making his DC debut and deserves credit for pushing Goffin hard, his body blows further weakening the Belgian team. Surely he’ll improve in later ties and the World Group next year, as he has bright future.
Leon Smith’s decision making was also top notch as he decided to pair the Murray brothers in doubles this time. He coached team GB to victory over traditional tennis powerhouses USA, France, and Australia en route to the final.
Belgium showed team unity can result in Davis Cup wins for underdogs, and with a relatively young team, they should continue to improve as well, and will get another potential shot at the title next year, likely fired up after coming so close to tasting victory.
The top tier of men’s professional tennis has now concluded for 2015, and one month from now the ATP World Tour will return for the start of the Australian Open series and the road to the 2016 Australian Open. Enjoy the short break, and we look forward to offering high quality pro tennis coverage again next year.
The final day of the Davis Cup semi-final between Great Britain and Australia, with the British team leading 2-1 after the Murray brothers pulled through in doubles on Saturday. Andy Murray had a chance to seal the tie in the fourth rubber against Australian number one Bernard Tomic in the first match of the day, and the world #3 did just that.
Murray d. Tomic 7-5 6-3 6-2
The sentiments before the match was that Great Britain had sealed the tie in the doubles. After all, Murray had previously beaten Tomic two times in routine fashion. Those thoughts looked to be coming true when Murray secured an early break of serve. The pair were hold all the way until 5-3, where the Brit earned the opportunity to serve out the set. Tomic applied the pressure and earned break point, which was saved by a big serve and forehand combination. Murray then had a set point of his own which was saved by an excellent running backhand pass. Murray would then surrender the break to get us back even. However, the world number three ramped up the pressure again at 6-5, getting to 0-40 on the Aussie’s serve. Tomic would save the first two set points, but on the fourth time of asking Murray was able to hit a drop shot that the world number 23 was unable to retrieve.
The second set went pretty much the same way, with Murray breaking in the fourth game yet again. This time, when asked the question to serve it out, he did not make any mistake. A love hold gave the Brit an unassailable lead.
It would take a minor miracle for the Aussie to get back into this match, and his effort showed. A poor game at 1-1 gifted another break to Murray and this match was all but over. A second break would put the match beyond any doubt, and Murray would serve it out to send Great Britain through to the final 3-1 in the tie.
“He’s a tough guy to play against,” Murray said of Tomic.
“He’s got incredible timing. He’s not the best mover but her reads the game very well, serves well. I think we have similar games in some respects. Sometimes when you play a similar game to someone, you don’t enjoy it because he changes the pace of the ball. But yeah, for me my game has just worked well against his.”
“He’s a very good player, an amazing player,” Tomic said of his opponent post-match.
“Today in the big moments when I had a bit of a chance, he was playing very well. I had a chance in that first set to take it to a tiebreak, but he played a very good game at 6-5 to get the break. He was making amazing shots and it shows why he is one of the best players in the world now, and one of the best defenders out there.”
Despite the tough loss to GB, Tomic remains positive about the future of Australian tennis and their Davis Cup prospects over the next decade or so. “We have a very good future,” the Australian number one said. “Nick, who missed out here, is going to help us in the future for sure. Our future looks very good, we have to remain positive and work hard. “There’s still a few months left of the season so I am going to push as hard as I can, and maybe reach the top 15 is my goal. I will be top 20 from tomorrow, so I am happy to make it to the top 20 and maybe in the next five tournaments I can push for top 15.”
It will certainly be an interesting future for Australia. Does Hewitt take on the role as captain?
“My understanding there is going to a panel,” said Wally Masur. “Lleyton I would suggest is going to be the next Davis Cup captain, but there is going to be a panel because everyone has got to have an opportunity. We have got some pretty good past players so everyone’s got to have an opportunity.” Meanwhile, Hewitt himself is unsure on whether he will take the reins of captain next year. “I haven’t really thought about it,” Hewitt said.
“I tried to do as much as I can playing wise whilst I can still run around and compete with these guys. With Pat and Wally this year we have still felt like I had to play a key role with the team dynamics, and added experience with the boys. “We will just have to sit down and work all that out.”
With Tomic, Kyrgios, and Kokkinakis they certainly have the talent to perhaps go all the way in later years.
Speaking of Kokkinakis, the 19 year old restored a little pride for his country by defeating Dan Evans 7-5, 6-4 in the dead rubber. The Aussie was in control throughout the match, even after failing to serve out the first set.
Great Britain advance to the final by a final score of 3-2 to face Belgium, after they defeated Argentina 3-2 in a live 5th rubber. That final will be played in Belgium in a couple of months.
Murray Brothers Give Team GB a 2-1 Lead in Davis Cup Action vs. Australia Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
With the tie between Great Britain and Australia poised at 1-1, many thought that doubles could be the deciding factor. Originally it was scheduled to be Sam Groth and Lleyton Hewitt vs Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot. But as expected Andy Murray was drafted in to partner his brother again the Aussies.
The Brits were the team to earn the first break point opportunities on the Hewitt serve, but they were well saved the Australian pair. Instead it would be Jamie’s serve that would be broken, as a Groth inspired Australia dealt the first blow.
The crowd rallied behind the Brits to get a break back, but they were fast running out of chances with Groth serving for the set. After a controversial call to award the point to after hawk eye ruled a Groth serve in, GB found themselves with two break back points. But a few big serves later, including a 141MPH unreturnable, Australia took the first set 6-4.
The second set was tight in the opening stages with neither team offering up an early break point. However, GB would find themselves with an opportunity in the sixth game of the set, and it would be taken as the big serve of Groth was finally broken. It would be left to Andy to serve out the set, and so he did as his brother Jamie buried an easy volley to level the score.
The Aussies would bounced back early in the second with an early break to establish a 2-0 lead. A Groth backhand was too much to handle for Andy after an excellent return by Hewitt set up the break point opportunity. The lead was whipped out though as Australia were made to rue some mistakes in the seventh game. It was back on serve at 4-3.
Soon the pressure was on the Aussie’s as GB earned break point at 4-4, but Andy missed a backhand and the chance went begging. After a missed volley from Hewitt, the Murray’s would receive a second chance at a break, and this time they would not be denied. Jamie put away the smash and all of a sudden the tide had turned in favour of Great Britain. Andy would successfully serve out the set to give Great Britain a 2-1 lead.
In the fourth, Australia would once again strike early. Jamie was broken after a half volley hit the net. The lead wouldn’t last long however as Britain were able to break back straight away. Australia would earn two opportunities to re-take the lead in the fourth set, getting to 15-40 on the Jamie serve. But both break points were saved and Great Britain held under the pressure. The older brother would continue to struggle on serve at 4-5 and the Aussies would soon find themselves with three set points to level the match. They were all saved by Great Britain who levelled the score at 5-5 taking us to the deep waters.
Instead it would be Great Britain who would make the crucial breakthrough at 5-5 to put themselves within one service game of taking a 2-1 lead in the tie. However, Hewitt’s fighting spirit came to the fore and Australia kept their hopes alive by breaking back from 30-0 down to take us to a tiebreak. It was a tense and nervy tiebreak that saw Great Britain lead 5-4 on serve, but it was Australia that would take the set after saving match point after a missed volley by the Murray’s.
The Brits opened the final set with a hold, and after a poor game from Groth which saw him miss three volleys and double fault, the brothers Murray were back ahead. It wasn’t over yet though as the Groth/Hewitt combination broke back to 15. Australia were put back under pressure immediately and faced more break points with Groth screaming ‘I can’t hold’. But the 27 year old did manage to hang on to his serve and we were even again at 3-3.
The Murray’s managed to get to 5-4 to put some scoreboard pressure on the already tight Groth serve, and it proved to be all too much for the Aussie’s who lost serve to lose the match in five sets.
Great Britain pulled through in three hours and 56 minutes to defeat Australia 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7, 6-4 and give themselves a vital 2-1 lead heading into the final.
The younger of the Murray brothers will now turns his attentions to the fourth singles rubber, or will he?
“I think I’ll let Dom play the singles tomorrow… see how it goes,” The world number three joked.
“The longer the match, the less time to recover and the harder to recover. Physically it’s tough but also emotionally matches like that are draining as well.
“I don’t think enough is made of that, they are very tough matches to play, lots of ups and downs, and chances for both teams, but try and recover as best as I can.”
Hewitt spoke of the up’s and downs of doubles tennis.
“You know all Davis Cup doubles are a lot of ebbs and flows in a five set match, especially on that kind of surface,” said the former world number one.
“It’s on the slower side court, so there’s gonna be ups and downs, there’s gonna be breaks of serves. You know we obviously fought off some break points early in the first set, was able to get that set.
“Second set, we couldn’t quite get into their service games as much then obviously had an early break in the third. Got a little bit unlucky actually to give the break back, where they hit some net cords and then you know obviously we just kept fighting and digging deep when they served for the match in the fourth, really close tiebreak.
“In the fifth again we were down a break, came back and then obviously got broken again. So especially Davis Cup doubles over five sets, it sometimes can only rely on one or two points.”
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.
Tennis Atlantic is live in Glasgow, Scotland for the Davis Cup semi-final between Great Britain and Australia over the weekend of the 18th-20th of September. The Brits are searching for their first Davis Cup success for nearly 80 years when they take on the Aussies at the Emirates Arena this weekend. Confidence is high around the UK that this could be the year Team GB breaks into the final, and with recent victories over France and USA there is little reason to doubt them.
Leon Smith’s team is spearheaded by world number three Andy Murray, whose heroics at Queens in July earned GB a 3-1 victory over France. The Scot played all three days despite physical struggles, and earned key victories over Jo Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon in the single rubbers.
Lleyton Hewitt claimed that all the pressure will be on Andy this weekend as the clear number one British player, but Murray insists that it is not all on him and it will come down to the entire team. “I would say [The Pressure] is all on me.” The 28 year old said. “We got into this position by everyone on the team playing their part, and there is pressure on everybody.
Murray will be joined by his brother Jamie Murray, Dominic Inglot, and Dan Evans, as they try replicate the success that dates back to the days of Fred Perry. Both Kyle Edmund, who had an ankle injury concern earlier in the week, and James Ward are alternates for Team GB but were not included in the formal nominations. “I went for a scan last night” The British number three Edmund said. “And when it came back it showed nothing, just a little bit of a bump, that’s it.” Despite the results, Smith went for a player nobody expected to be drafted in. Dan Evans was chosen over Ward and Edmund as the second singles player.
“It wasn’t an easy one but having thought about it a lot, the fact that Dan has played an awful lot of tennis this summer, won a lot of matches, I said the other day it’s obvious at Futures level that winning really helps, and he comes with a lot of confidence.” The GB captain said. “Obviously Kyle, although he’s almost fit, he still had a fall the other day and I think at this stage it was wasn’t worth risking anything happening over the weekend especially when you go in with the make-up of two singles players and two doubles players, if anything had happened with Kyle Friday we would have been up against it. “For James, the tie came maybe the wrong time for him after a summer that’s been quite tough results wise, but he’s played a big, big part in the team to date and I’m sure he’ll play a big part in the future as well, but I felt that Dan was in the best place to win for the weekend.”
Australia are bidding for their first title in 12 years, and one man remains from that victories team back in 2003. Hewitt is making his final appearance in the Davis Cup this year, and boy he would love to go out on a bang. The former two time grand slam champion is joined by Bernard Tomic, Sam Groth and Thanasi Kokkanakis as they look to combine youth and experience to take down the Brits. “Yeah it obviously means a lot [to play his last Davis Cup]” Hewitt said. “It is my last year playing, and it is a great opportunity. “With my experience and the other boys’ youth, I think we have really mixed it up well this year” “I think as a team we have gotten stronger as the year has gone on, which is a really good sign. We are here to put our best foot forward and we won’t be leaving anything in the locker room that’s for sure.”
The noticeable omission is their number two player, Nick Kyrgios. The 20 year old ‘bad boy’ of tennis recently was surrounded in controversy after comments made about Stan Wawrinka’s girlfriend. The Aussie is serving a one month suspension from the ATP, but he still eligible to play Davis Cup, so he was just left out of the squad. “After Nick played Andy at the US Open we sat down two days later. Nick has had a really full year in more ways than one, so we just kind of felt mutually that this was the best fit for him and the team.” Said Aussie captain, Wally Masur.
The draw to see who will play who was made on Thursday, and here is how it came out.
The British number one, Murray, will face Aussie youngster, Kokkanakis in the first rubber tomorrow afternoon. The pair know each other well due to practicing a lot together and playing doubles in Miami. However this is their first competitive meeting. “Yeah it will be a tough match obviously.” Murray said of the Kokkanakis challenge “I practiced with him a lot and have spent a lot of time watching him as well, and speaking to him. So I know for one of the younger guys, I know his game better than most. “You know we have practiced together at the French Open and the US Open, we obviously played doubles together as well in Miami, so I know his game well and obviously it will be a tough match. But at the same time it’s a tough match-up for him as well, you know the atmosphere is going to be challenging for them as well, and that’s something that will hopefully give us a big boost.
The Aussie meanwhile is relishing the opportunity to play one of the world’s best players on this big of a stage. “Yeah should be a great challenge up ahead, great player and to play him in his home ground in Glasgow will be a huge opportunity for me. I like the courts here, boys have been training really well, and it’s going to be a huge honour to play. Thank you guys for picking me again, and to play first up, I’ll be ready to go.” Kokkanakis said.
The only time these two met was two years ago at the US Open when Evans shocked Tomic with a four sets win. The Australian number one will now look to avenge that loss in the second rubber tomorrow evening. “Honestly? I was up 6-1 3-0 and couldn’t make a ball after that, and that’s all I remember.” Tomic said in recollection of that match in New York. “It was a very windy day, it was tough, he was very confident at the moment and he beat Nishikori prior to me. So he was playing well, I had a chance, I was comfortable I was cruising, obviously he started playing more free, and he beat me so it’s not an easy match, it’s very tough for me.”
“My game matches up pretty well to him, and that’s what I’ve got to try and do on Friday, play that way again.” Evans said. “Everyone, they do remember when you’ve played someone before, like I remember when I’ve lost to someone before – that’s always in someone’s head as well.” “I think coming back to Scotland is nice, I mean the atmosphere last time when I watched it on television sounded very good but it was obviously better in the stadium so yeah, I’m looking forward to it.”
You can catch all the Davis Cup action on Tennis Atlantic.
Brydan Klein is the current British number 6 and is close to breaking into the top 200 on the ATP rankings. Born in Australia (his mother is British) he has made great strides lately that sees him on the cusp of this very achievable landmark. Currently he is in Mexico playing a couple of tournaments in South America on the clay, to warm up before the clay season starts in earnest. He took time out of his schedule to talk to me on behalf of Tennis Atlantic. We chat about Davis Cup, Slams, goals and inspirations.
Thank you to Brydan for taking time out for this interview.
(Glenys) How could does it feel to be on the cusp of breaking into the top 200?
(Brydan) “I’m very excited about breaking back into the top 200. I am only a couple of wins away at challenger level at the moment. hopefully I can move well inside the top 200 by Wimbledon time while I’m not defending any points. I’m also excited that with my current ranking I have guaranteed a place in all 3 remaining grand slams of the year (Qualies at least) so I’m looking forward to playing those big events.”
As this happened fairly recently what do you think of Aljaz Bedene’s decision to switch nationality to British?
“I don’t have much comment on Bedene’s switch as I don’t know the ins and outs of the switch politically. I do believe if he has the right to make the switch and it is in his best interest then it is a positive thing for him and British tennis. As many people may know, It isn’t easy being a travelling tennis if you are not at the very top of the sport. Every player needs to do what is best for themselves to excel their career. So I support Aljaz if he believes it will benefit him. I also heard he will be fighting against the new Davis cup rule to become eligible so good luck to him with that.”
What are your goals for this year?
“My goals this year are to at least rise my ranking to the top 150 singles by year end and top 100 doubles. I would also love to qualify for one of the 3 remaining slams and have my ranking in a position to potentially play Davis cup. Another goal is to hit the grass season ranked under 175 (174 being my previous best)”
What do you feel is your best surface?
“I feel my best surface is hard court, although I did grow up competing on grass from a young age so I feel i have potential to be dangerous on the green stuff. Clay is my least preferred surface purely because I haven’t set foot on it much. I have won a few futures titles on clay and doubles challengers so I am not utterly useless on it”
What do you believe to be your best match ever and why?
“My best match ever would have to be winning my first round in Australian open a few years back against Bjorn Phau. Purely because it was a grand slam match and I sustained a very high level over 4 sets. It was extremely enjoyable to play and win at that level in one of the biggest events in the world.”
Who has been your inspiration?
“My inspiration has always been my family and girlfriend. I’m probably repeating every sportsman in history but the best feeling in the world is making your family proud. As of late all the players who have cracked into the top 100 for the first time in their late twenties inspire me as that is what I’m looking to do having just turned 25.”
What do you like to do when not training?
“When I’m not competing or training I like to chill out with my girlfriend Joanna who is now travelling full time with me. Being on the road 80% of the year I don’t get to see my family and friends much so having the company of someone you love is huge. We like to watch movies or hit the beach (when possible). At the moment she is forcing me to watch pretty little liars haha.”
Are you looking forward to the grass season?
“I can’t wait to return to the UK for the grass court season. I have 2 more tournaments in Mexico, 1 in the US then 3 in Asia before flying to Europe for the French open Qualies, as I mentioned before, I hope to be ranked under 175 by the time the grass season starts.”
Good luck Brydan for the rest of the season, thank you again for taking the time to chat with me-Glenys
Andy Murray Clinches Victory for Team GB in Glasgow in @Daviscup Action vs. USA Joe Craven for Tennis Atlantic
British number one Andy Murray ensured the pressure was kept off his teammate James Ward, by sending team GB into the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup World Group with a 7-6 (4) 6-3 7-6 (4) victory over top American John Isner. Isner lost his second straight Davis Cup singles rubber, this time in straight sets fashion, though he came close to taking a set, and Murray was as calm, efficient and confident as he was on Friday when he dismantled Donald Young.
Despite the crowd doing their best to pump Murray up from the get go, it was Isner that was the better player for large periods of the 1st set. The American who was perhaps a bit too passive on Friday against James Ward, was able to play much more aggressive Tennis against Murray in the early stages of the match and kept things rather close. After serving his way out of trouble to hold for 2-1 in the opener, Isner gained an early break point opportunity in the very next game after ending a fantastic rally with a forehand winner down the line. This particular breakpoint was saved in style by Murray as he got on top of a competitive rally to end it with a forehand putaway. Murray was eventually able to hold his serve for 2-2 but the set continued to follow a similar pattern as Isner held with relative ease and pile the pressure on the Brits serve at every possible opportunity. Serving at 4-3 down in the set Murray had to save multiple breakpoints to hold, it was these moments he relished the most as he produced some his best tennis when he was up against the wall.
Murray was still struggling to hold comfortably and when serving to stay in the set at 5-4 down, some poor play from the Brit gave Isner multiple set points. However Isner was unable to take his chances and Murray eventually held for 5-5, much to the relief of the packed Emirates arena crowd. Fortunately for Murray he had no major issues serving to stay in the set at 6-5 down, holding to 30 to force a 1st set tiebreak. Isner double faulted in the very first point of the tiebreak to gift Murray the mini break and that was that. Some confident play from the Brit ensured that he stayed in control throughout the tiebreak it taking it 7-4.
The fashion in which Murray took the 1st set seemed to boost his confidence in the 2nd set and the Brit seemed less nervous than he did in the opening stages of the match. Isner was still playing some really good aggressive tennis but Murray was able to thwart everything that was thrown at him and hold his serve a lot more comfortably than he did in the 1st set, this seemed to awake the 7,700 capacity crowd who were making some deafening noise after every point Murray won. At 3-2 up in the third set Murray really began to step up the pressure on the Isner serve, a brilliant return forced an error from Isner to give Murray his first break point of the match . What followed was simply wonderful, after drawing Isner into the net Murray was able to hit a stunning lob over the giant American to give himself the break and a 4-2 lead in the set. An errant service game from Isner was all it was needed for Murray to take full control of the set, and the Brit showed no signs of nerve as he sealed the 6-3 with a hold to love.
In the opening game of the 3rd set, Murray found himself with three break points after piling pressure on the Isner serve with some brilliant returns. The American might well have given up at this point considering he faced the task of coming from two sets to love down to keep USA in the tie. However, he held firm and with some brilliant serving he won four points in a row and managed to hold for a 1-0 lead in the 3rd set. In the game that followed Isner even had half a chance on the Murray serve as he brought him to deuce with some aggressive Tennis, but some clutch play from Murray once again allowed him to hold for 1-1. After missing the opportunity to break Isner in the first game of the set, Murray cast a rather frustrated figure, berating himself on multiple occasions and even screaming “NO” when he was unable to return an Isner serve.
Murray was able to conjure up half a chance on the Isner serve at 4-4 with a nice forehand pass getting him to 30-30 in the game, however Isner fired down two booming aces in a row to hold for 5-4, much to the frustration of Murray who would now have to serve to stay in the set. Murray did experience a bit of a trouble serving to stay in the set, finding himself 0-30 down, but some accurate serving got him out of trouble as he won four straight points to hold. Isner replied with another hold of his own for a 6-5 lead, forcing Murray to serve to stay in the set once more, this time he had no trouble, holding to love to send the set into a tiebreak much to the delight of the packed out crowd who by this point were stamping their feet on the floor to make even more noise.
The finishing line was in sight for Murray and early on in the tie break he was able to get a mini break to go 3-1 up after ending up wonderfully crafted point with a smash winner. Isner was fading fast and at 5-2 down in the breaker he dumped a tired looking back into the net, giving Murray four match points. Two of the match points were saved by Isner but on his third match point Murray hit an ace out wide to secure a straight sets win, sending the packed out crowd wild. Isner looked to be an emotional wreck after he match, nearly in tears, and emotionally spent, while Murray truly looked delighted to have helped his nation win in what was a home event for him in his Scottish homeland, he truly enjoyed the entire Davis Cup experience this week, showing great chemistry with his coach Leon Smith, his brother Jamie of course, and his other teammates James Ward and Dom Inglot.
Murray’s win had ensured victory for Great Britain, giving them an unassailable 3-1 lead. The tie eventually ended 3-2 to Great Britain with the USA’s Donald Young beat Great Britain’s James Ward despite winning one less game. Ward retired at 7-5 0-1 up, citing a sore knee. It was most likely just a precautionary measure from the Brit, who is due to play Indian Wells qualifying on Tuesday.
Bryans Force Live Rubber Tennis on Sunday With a Win over Inglot/J. Murray in Davis Cup Doubles Joe Craven for Tennis Atlantic
Bob and Mike Bryan ensured that the USA lived to fight another day in their World Group tie against Great Britain, as they survived a valiant fightback from the British pairing of Jamie Murray and Dom Inglot to win 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-7 (8) 9-7. USA trail the tie 2-1 heading into the final day of the tie but will take some confidence from the way Bob and Mike held their nerve in what was a must win rubber.
Prior to this particular match Murray and Inglot had only played together as a pair over 12 years ago in junior events and their lack of experience as a team showed early on in the 1st set, with Murray especially struggling to get used to the conditions of playing with a different partner than he usually does. The Scot looked rather nervous on serve and in the 4th game of the set the Bryans were able to break the Murray serve to go 3-1 up after forcing the play and piling the pressure on the scratch pairing. Murray and Inglot did manage to break the Bryans right back in the following game, but with the Scot continuing to struggle on serve, the outcome of the set was rather inevitable. At 4-3 up in the set a poor second serve from Murray was hit for a winner by Bob Bryan to bring up a break point for the Americans and Murray dumped a nervous volley into the net to hand the Bryans the break and a 5-3 lead. The Americans had no issues in the following game and held with ease to take the 1st set 6-3.
With the hopes of the USA firmly resting on the shoulders of the Bryans, they continued to show their class in the 2nd set, whilst Great Britain’s Jamie Murray continued to show his nerves. In just the 3rd game of the set the Scot squandered a 40 love lead to give the Bryans a chance to break and after a long rally Mike Bryan hit a stunning cross court forehand pass to convert the break point and give his team a 2-1 lead in the 2nd set. The pairing of Murray and Inglot were really struggling to get into the match and despite some good service games from Inglot the pair could do nothing of note on return. It was perhaps rather unsurprising that at 4-2 down and with Murray serving the pair once again found themselves in trouble. The Bryans forced the play once more and punished Murray for yet more week serving to break for a 5-2 lead, by this point Murray had lost all 4 of his service games in the match. Mike Bryan had the task of serving the set out for the Bryans and he had no no problems in doing so as he held to love to give his team a 2 sets to 0 lead, much to the delight of USA captain Jim Courier.
Murray and Inglot were determined not to go down without a fight and as the crowd raised their level of noise at the start of the 3rd set, the pair began to raise their level of tennis. Murray was determined to make amends for his poor serving in the 1st two sets and in the 3rd game of the set the Scot comfortably hold his serve to 15 to give Britain a 2-1 lead in the set. The game that followed was an thrilling one with both teams producing some stunning Tennis which had the Glasgow crowd on their feet multiple times. Two break points came and went for the British team but after saving four game points points of the Bryans, they found themselves with another break point and at the 3rd time of asking the Brits converted to take a 3-1 lead in the 3rd set. Inglot had been holding serve with relative ease throughout the match and another convincing hold from the man nicknamed ‘Dom the Bomb’ quickly extended the Brits lead to 4-1 in the set. The rest of the set flew by rather quickly with none of the four players on court experiencing any struggle on their serve. Dom Inglot served the set out to 15 to take the 3rd set 6-3 for the Brits.
After starting the match extremely slowly, Murray and Inglot now seemed like a pair who’d been playing together as a team for years and their confidence just seemed to grow even more in the 4th set. The pair were able to save a break point against their serve early on in the set and they even had two opportunities to break a couple of games later, but the Bryans held firm and quashed both of the Brits chances rather comfortably. The Brits were forced to serve to stay in the match twice and despite experiencing some slight trouble on his serve at 6-5 down, Jamie Murray was able to hold and send the 4th set into a tiebreaker.
In that 4th set tiebreak, both teams held their nerve on serve until the 2-3 service point, as the Bryans went up a minibreak by winning a point off of Jamie Murray’s serve to go up 4-2, and put themselves three points away from clinching the rubber. However, team GB would fight back as the partisan crowd never lost hope , Inglot finished a volley at the net between the two Americans to prevent them from earning a match point, and then won the 4-5 point for 5-5 entirely by himself, with a strong serve and two quality volleys. The Bryans netted to go down 5-6 in the fourth set breaker. The Bryans did get it back to 6 all, but again Inglot was clutch, skying for an overhead volley to give GB a minibreak and a set point at 7-6. To the chagrin of the crowd, the British team again failed to convert, and team USA won the next point also for a match point at 8-7 on Bob Bryan’s serve. Bob Bryan slipped when faced with Inglot’s curving stab return and the match point was saved to push the tiebreak to an agonizing 8 all. After Inglot had done most of the damage for team GB in the tiebreak, it was Jamie Murray who forced the third set point at 9-8 as his forehand return just found the edge of the outside doubles line. Team GB finally forced a fifth with a volley winner by Murray sending the crowd into a frenzy.
In that deciding fifth set, the Americans got a half chance at 1-1, as they went up 0-30 on Murray’s serve but Murray and his teammate would claw back and win five of the next six points to go up 2-1. Both teams would hold serve all the way to 7-7, as there were no break point chances to be had with quality serving by both teams. At 7 all, team GB went up 40-15, but collapsed from there, as Inglot netted a chest volley for 40-30, .whiffed on an overhead for deuce and netted another volley to generate a break point chance for the Americans. They broke for 8-7 as Murray netted a forehand volley. In that 8-7 game, the Bryans won four consecutive points from 0-15, and on the match point the British team sent the ball long. The Bryans finished with their trademark chestbump, knowing they had kept the tie alive for team USA.