Stage is set for Murray to play the hero

Drama is never very far away when Andy Murray is around and Britain's Davis Cup team will be hoping the stage is perfectly set for their leading man to make a grand entrance at the Braehead Arena here today.

The first day of their Europe-Africa Zone tie against Serbia and Montenegro ended all square yesterday, with both matches going to form. Greg Rusedski played soundly to defeat Janko Tipsarevic 6-3, 6-7, 7-5, 7-5, but Arvind Parmar, replacing Murray in the singles as the Scot continued his recovery from a bacterial infection, was beaten 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 by Novak Djokovic, Serbia's leading player.

Cue Murray. The British No 1 teams up with Rusedski this afternoon against Nenad Zimonjic and Ilia Bozoljac in the doubles, a rubber which the home side may well have to win to secure overall victory.

Rusedski, who was on court for more than three hours yesterday, faces a tough task when he plays his third match in three days tomorrow against Djokovic, who at 18 is 14 years his junior, in the first of the reverse singles. It is easy to envisage a scenario in which the match then stands at 2-2 and Murray is asked to replace Parmar against Tipsarevic and win the tie for Britain.

At least Murray appears to be recovering well from his sickness. "He looks fine," Rusedski said of his British team-mate yesterday. "He's smiling, he's happy, he's the same as always. He's playing a bit of football in the locker-room and eating his junk food like he normally does."

In the absence of the local hero, the atmosphere in the Braehead Arena was strangely subdued yesterday, despite the efforts of James Auckland, the fourth member of the British team, to raise the noise levels from the sidelines.

Perhaps it was because the opening match rarely caught fire. The first set could hardly have been more straightforward, with Rusedski finding his service rhythm immediately and Tipsarevic winning only four points on the Briton's serve in the entire set. The Serb dropped his own serve to love to trail 4-2 as Rusedski played a canny game, hitting low, sliced backhands and waiting for his opponent to make a mistake.

There were no breaks in the second set and Rusedski had dropped only five more points on his serve until the tie-break.

The Serb, however, is a thoughtful individual - he has a quotation by Dostoyevsky, "Beauty will save the world", tattooed on his arm in Japanese ("I was going to have it done in Russian but it didn't look good," Tipsarevic said yesterday) - and he gradually worked out ways to get the ball back. A sweet backhand return down the line put the Serb 2-0 up in the tie-break, which he went on to win 7-2. For a player who hit 30 aces in the match Rusedski became curiously vulnerable on his serve, thanks in no small part to 11 double faults. He kept his nerve, however, and secured the match by breaking serve in the final game of both the third and fourth sets.

Tipsarevic played a brave game at 4-5, saving five match points, but Rusedski adopted a more aggressive approach when he had his next chance two games later. Running round his backhand to meet Tipsarevic's serve, the Briton clinched the match with three crisply struck forehands. Tipsarevic was wearing glasses for the first time and fell heavily twice in the match, but he refused to offer either as an excuse.

Djokovic also had a nasty fall against Parmar, which was one of the only moments that offered the British No 5 any hope. Having failed to recover from an early break in the first set, despite having four break points, Parmar was serving at 2-2 when Djokovic slipped on the first point and injured his elbow. The Serb resumed after treatment, however, and promptly broke Parmar's serve after the Briton had led 40-15. He went on to win the set 6-2.

Hopes that Parmar might win a Davis Cup rubber for the first time - he has now lost all six he has played - flickered briefly again when he had Djokovic 0-30 down on his serve at 3-4 in the third set, but again the Serb recovered. Djokovic broke to lead 6-5 with a beautiful backhand winner down the line and served out for victory in the rubber with a thunderous ace on his first match point.

Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
David Hasselhof in Peter Pan
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
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.

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
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'