Victory over Tunisia, but GB pair make it hard slog
Sunday 06 March 2011
Considering that even Tunisia's players admit their country is more successful at handball and petanque, Britain should not have been expecting anything other than an emphatic victory in this weekend's Davis Cup tie.
Such an outcome moved a step closer when success in yesterday's doubles sent Britain into a 2-1 lead, though Jamie Murray and Colin Fleming did not win as comfortably as they might have hoped, having to overcome a second-set slump to beat Malek Jaziri and Slim Hamza 6-1 3-6 6-3 6-4.
Britain now need to win just one of today's reverse singles to clinch this first-round tie in the Europe/ Africa Zone Group Two. James Ward is first up against Jaziri, who showed in his victory over Jamie Baker on Friday that he is a more than competent player.
Baker is then due to play Sami Ghorbel, a 19-year-old student who does not even have a world ranking and took just two games off Ward on Friday. However, given Hamza's solid performance in the doubles it would be no surprise if he was given the opportunity if the match goes to a fifth rubber.
When Murray and Fleming took the first set, breaking Jaziri's serve twice, the Scots appeared to be coasting, but the Tunisians gained confidence after Hamza held serve in the third game of the second set from 0-40 down.
The 18-year-old looked sharp at the net and began to hit the ball with more conviction, while Jaziri again struck his forehands with power and assurance. Fleming dropped his serve in the sixth game and the Tunisians served out to level at one set apiece.
The Scottish pair responded well in the third set, although they conceded an early advantage when Murray was broken in the third game. Hamza, however, immediately dropped his serve to put Murray and Fleming back in command.
Nevertheless, it was not all effortless from that point as the Britons had to come from behind before takingthe fourth set, Fleming completing victory with an ace.
"It was maybe a little bit trickier than what we had expected," Leon Smith, Britain's captain, said. "The young guy played really well. He started making a lot of balls. His backhand was pretty good and Jaziri showed again that he's a pretty talented player. But I thought the boys responded well in the fourth set and showed why they are the established tour pair." Murray added: "It probably wasn't the best performance, but even if things were getting closer in the third or fourth set I didn't ever think we were going to lose. They probably played better than we had expected but at the end of the day we came to win and we won."
Today's winners will face a second-round tie in July against Luxembourg or Ireland, who are meeting thisweekend in Dublin.
Britain would have to win both that match, in which Andy Murray is likelyto play, and a third-round encounter with Belarus, Bulgaria or Hungary in September in order to return to Europe/Africa Group One, the Davis Cup's second tier, from which they were relegated two years ago. Today's losers will meet in a relegation play-off in July to decide who will be relegated to Europe/Africa Group Three, the competition's bottom division.
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
comedy'Fresh Meat' star sees off stiff competition from Alan Carr, David Mitchell, Graham Norton, Lee Mack and Sarah Millican to win top prize
Beatles rush out 'bootleg' album to defy EU copyright law
healthJames Bond's alcohol consumption puts him at 'high risk' of cirrhosis, tremors... and impotence
musicPolice chief rejects rappers' claims that his work is as dangerous as law enforcement or military service
tvSpoiler alert: Find out the result of a heated final show
Harvey Weinstein reveals his secret weapon on-set
Now that an oil trader's drinking has got him sacked, will we all have to make do with an afternoon latte?
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Idris Elba get nods for Best Actor, which no black Brit has ever won
Geoffrey Macnab reviews The Desolation of Smaug - the meat in Peter Jackson's Hobbit sandwich
peopleWhat advice would David Cameron give to his younger self?
World Cup 2014: Football Manager developers predict the team of the tournament - but which England player makes it into the XI?
Transfer news: Manchester United step up chase for Internazionale midfielder Fredy Guarin - reports
Ashes 2013/14 third Test: Is Waca on the way out?
Manchester City should have known rules in Bayern Munich match, says Rafa Benitez
Champions League last 16 draw 2013: Who could Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United meet?
- 1 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 Australia incest case: Severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- 4 Physicists discover 'clearest evidence yet' that the Universe is a hologram
- 5 Fox News presenter tells viewers it is a 'fact' that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white