Britain one victory from elite return after Andy Murray and Colin Fleming put Davis Cup team into 2-1 lead against Croatia



Britain are within one singles victory of returning to the Davis Cup’s elite World Group after Andy Murray and Colin Fleming put Leon Smith’s team  into a 2-1 lead after the second day of their play-off against Croatia here yesterday. Murray, having recovered from a sore back, led the way with some brilliant all-court tennis as the Scottish pair beat Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic 6-3 6-2 6-7 6-1.

The victory leaves Britain needing to win just one of today’s reverse singles to secure their return to the World Group for the first time since 2008. Murray should beat Dodig, but if he slips up it would be down to Dan Evans to take on Borna Coric or Antonio Veic in the concluding rubber.

This is Murray’s first Davis Cup appearance for two years and it emphasises what a strong team Smith has when the world No 3 is available. Smith has plenty of doubles talent at his disposal – Jonny Marray, last year’s Wimbledon doubles champion, was waiting on the bench – and in Murray he has a player who has never lost a singles rubber since his debut eight years ago.

Murray said the decision to play, after he had suffered some back trouble the previous day, had been taken in “a one-minute conversation”. He added: “It’s slightly different playing doubles to singles. You’re not covering the whole court and the points are obviously a lot shorter. I felt pretty good today.” Fleming and Murray, who have known each other since boyhood, had only played one tournament together, though their progress to last month’s Montreal Masters final showed how effective they can be. Fleming is the world No 17 in doubles, while Murray is a superb exponent of the game.

Dodig reached the Wimbledon doubles final this summer, but Pavic was making his Davis Cup debut and his nerves contributed to a poor start by the home pair. Pavic dropped his serve in the second game and his problems seemed to affect Dodig, who was broken three times in a row as the Britons took command of the second set. Croatia’s top player must have been left dispirited by the first break, which was secured with a brilliantly imaginative forehand winner by Murray.

The Croatians did not force a break point until the third set, in which all four men dropped serve. Fleming, who had played almost as well as Murray in the first two sets, started to struggle with his serve as the match wore on and his double fault at 6-7 in the tie-break let the Croatians back in the match.

The 4,000-capacity stadium was barely half full. The sizeable and noisy British contingent had made the most noise in the opening two sets, but at last the home supporters found their voice, only for Murray and Fleming to silence them by breaking Pavic twice in the fourth set.

Fleming served out for victory to leave Smith in confident mood. “Going into tomorrow 2-1 up gives us two cracks at it now which is always really important,” Smith said. “Andy against Dodig will be a good match, but Andy knows it will be a tough one as well.”

Suggested Topics
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas