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

 

Umag

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
News
Jennifer Lawrence was among the stars allegedly hacked
peopleActress among those on 'master list' of massive hack
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor