Defeat adds to Murray's heavy load

Having already become used to shouldering the weight of national expectations at Wimbledon, Andy Murray is now discovering what it is like to be the cornerstone of the country's Davis Cup hopes.

Twenty-four hours after Murray had levelled the match against Israel by beating Andy Ram in a five-set thriller lasting nearly three hours, the British No 1 was back on court here at Devonshire Park alongside Jamie Delgado for yesterday's doubles encounter with Ram and Jonathan Erlich, one of the world's leading pairs. It was another five-set nail-biter, but after three hours and 16 minutes of wonderfully entertaining tennis the Israelis won 3-6 6-3 5-7 6-3 6-4.

Britain will have to win both of today's reverse singles to take the tie and avoid having to travel to Ukraine in September for a play-off to decide who will be relegated from Group One of the Europe-Africa Zone.

Murray was beginning to look tired by the end and was also suffering with a neck injury sustained after one of his many dives around the court. He is due first on court today against Noam Okun ­ Alex Bogdanovic is then scheduled to play Ram ­ but said he would have to see how his neck is feeling this morning. The Scot is planning to fly to Los Angeles tomorrow to begin his summer campaign on American hard courts.

Murray has clearly relished his role as the country's leading hope. Tim Henman has retired from Davis Cup tennis, while Greg Rusedski, who is missing this tie through injury, will be 33 in September and must be nearing the end of his playing days.

It was only 16 months ago that the Scot made his Davis Cup debut, partnering David Sherwood in the doubles against Israel in Tel Aviv to record a remarkable win over Erlich and Ram. The Israelis concentrate almost exclusively on doubles these days, while this was the first time that Murray and Delgado have played together.

Murray volleyed beautifully, showed great reflexes and anticipation at the net and played with a fine awareness of the different angles and possibilities that the doubles court offers. Delgado, who is ranked No 427 in the world in singles, also raised his game impressively.

Lunchtime rain, which did not dampen the spirits of a small group of demonstrators who had gathered outside to protest against Israel's actions in the Middle East, delayed the start by nearly three hours. The Britons, however, got off to a flier. Ram was broken to love in the fourth game after missing two volleys and the Israelis never threatened to break serve in the opening set, which the British pair won by breaking Erlich.

Delgado, however, was broken in the first and last games of the second set as the Israelis made a positive response. Their knowledge of each other's games was evident and in doubles play teamwork can be crucial.

The Israelis seemed to have taken command, but the British pair produced a thrilling reply in the third set. Murray, responding to the increasingly passionate crowd, hit some excellent winners, particularly at the net. He was broken when serving at 5-3, but the Britons broke Ram for the second time in the set and Murray served out to put the home side back in front.

Once again, however, the balance tipped back in the Israelis' favour as they won the fourth set after breaking Delgado's serve in the second game. Remarkably, however, the Britons broke Ram to lead 3-1 in the final set and even had a point to lead 5-1. However, Erlich held on to his serve and Murray was broken in the next game. Delgado was then broken at 4-4 and despite a thrilling final game, in which the Britons again had a break point, the Israelis held on as Delgado's final service return flew wide.

Murray thought luck had not been on the Britons' side, while Jeremy Bates, the British captain, described it as "a magnificent match" and added: "I'm very proud of them. It was an outstanding performance."

Judy Murray, Andy's mother, yesterday launched a new website (, backed by the Lawn Tennis Association and designed to help parents of junior tennis players.

Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas
footballChelsea vs West Ham live kicks off coverage of all 10 of Boxing Day matches
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
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.

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

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
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all