Britain are on the brink of earning a place in the semi-finals of the Davis Cup for the first time for 34 years after Andy and Jamie Murray joined forces to secure what should prove to be a crucial doubles victory.
The brothers’ 4-6 6-3 7-6 6-1 victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Nicolas Mahut put Leon Smith’s team 2-1 ahead and needing only one win from two reverse singles to go through to a home tie in September against the winners of this weekend’s meeting between Australia and Kazakhstan.
How appropriate it would be if Andy Murray were to secure the victory by winning the first of the concluding rubbers. Although it was often his brother who showed the way in the doubles, the world No 3 is the heartbeat of this team and an inspiration to all around him.
Andy is due to play Gilles Simon in the first singles match, but the French may well decide to bring in Richard Gasquet, who was playing in the semi-finals at Wimbledon only nine days ago.
Murray also made the last four at the All England Club, but while the Scot will be playing here for the third day in succession Gasquet has been rested with this final-day scenario in mind. If the tie goes to a fifth rubber James Ward is due to take on Tsonga, though France could also take the option of bringing in Gasquet for the final match in the hope that Simon will have upset the odds against Murray.
Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot had been Britain’s nominated doubles pair, but after Andy Murray’s straight-sets victory over Tsonga on Friday it was no surprise when Smith called him into action for the second day in succession. Britain’s captain said he felt it would be “more intimidating” for the French to have to take on the world No 3.
The Murrays, nevertheless, had not played a match together for more than two years and had played Davis Cup doubles together on only one previous occasion. When Andy dropped his serve in the opening game, which was enough to lose the first set, it looked as though Smith’s ploy might be in danger of backfiring, but the brothers’ response was magnificent. They did not face any more break points until Jamie saved two in the final game.
Britain’s only concern came when Andy had lengthy treatment on a hip problem after taking a tumble towards the end of the third set. He said afterwards that the hip was sore but he was pleased it was not a muscular problem.
Andy had taken time to settle in the first set, but Jamie was on his game from the start. The brothers took the second set after breaking Tsonga in the fourth game and won the third set tie-break 7-5, after which a fired-up Andy leapt into the air in celebration. The fourth set became a procession, with Jamie hitting the match-winning smash after two hours and 49 minutes.
“It was a magic day,” a joyful Jamie said. “To play with your brother, for your country, and also having Leon on the bench, who has been a big part of our tennis careers from a young age, I think is really special.”Reuse content