There have been times when Andy Murray's commitment to the Davis Cup has been called into question but anybody who doubted what playing for his country means to the 24-year-old Scot should have been in Glasgow yesterday.
Having secured victory for Britain over Luxembourg in their Europe Africa Zone Group Two tie with a crushing win over Gilles Müller, Murray broke down in tears during a post-match interview. "I don't get the chance to come back here very often," he said, his voice cracking with emotion. Murray returned to his chair and buried his face in his towel before leaving the court to rapturous applause from the capacity crowd, which included many members of his family as well as friends and supporters from his home in Dunblane.
James Ward went on to complete a 4-1 victory by winning the dead fifth rubber, but this was very much a family triumph for the Murray brothers and for Andy in particular. In his first competitive appearance in his home country for five years and his first outing in the Davis Cup for 22 months, the world No 4 did not drop a set in his two singles rubbers or the doubles, in which he partnered his brother Jamie.
Murray's professionalism and whole-hearted commitment were an example to all over a weekend in which he saved his best for last. Müller, the world No 81, was swept aside, losing 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 in an hour and 46 minutes. Murray chased every ball as if his life depended on it.
Remarkably, Murray dropped just four points in his 13 service games whereas Müller regularly struggled on his own serve. The Luxembourgeois left-hander has one of the most potent serves in the game – Rafael Nadal did not force a single break point against him in the first two sets at Wimbledon last month – but in Murray he was facing arguably the best returner in the business.
Murray made the only break of the first set in the third game and from 2-2 in the second set won 10 of the last 12 games. All the usual trademark Murray shots were on show, from thumping backhand passes to exquisitely judged drop shots, as well as some even more spectacular strokes, including a delightful lob volley winner. Victory was secured when Murray held his serve to love for the tenth time, after which he leapt into the air in joyous celebration.
"I think I showed to myself how much I love playing Davis Cup and how much I enjoy playing for my country," he said later. "It's a different feeling. I felt like I was myself on the court. I felt like I was hungry, I felt like I was intense, I felt I was getting annoyed at the things I felt I should have been getting annoyed at and things that get me fired up. That's me. That's what I've always been like and I need to make sure that I don't lose that in the other tournaments."
Murray agreed that the tie had been the perfect way to put behind him the disappointment of losing in the semi-finals at Wimbledon, particularly given the way his post-Australian Open depression had "ruined three months of my year".
He added: "It would have been very easy to have come here after Wimbledon and had a bit of a let-down. That's happened to me in the past and I wanted to make sure it didn't happen again.
"Everyone goes through difficult moments at some stage, but you can do something about it and make sure you don't dwell on the past. You need to think about the future and how you can improve. If I keep thinking about what I could have done better or what I should have done it doesn't help."
Britain will now play Hungary at home in September – at a venue to be determined – to decide who will be promoted to Europe Africa Zone Group One, the Davis Cup's second tier. With Hungary's top two players, Attila Balazs and Adam Kellner, ranked No 224 and No 249 in the world respectively, it is a tie which Britain could easily lose without Murray but one which they should win comfortably with him. Murray confirmed that he would be available to play if fit, to which Leon Smith, the captain, responded: "I just want to make sure that last statement was recorded."
Davis Cup details
* Great Britain 4-1 Luxembourg
* Saturday A Murray & J Murray bt L Bram & M Yermeer 7-5, 6-2, 6-0
* Yesterday A Murray bt G Müller 6-4, 6-3, 6-1; J Ward bt M Yermeer 6-1, 6-3
World Group Quarter Final results:
* Serbia 4-1 Sweden
* Kazakhstan 0-5 Argentina
* Germany 1-4 France
* US 1-2 Spain* (score correct prior to last night's matches)