The prime-time fighter with the knockout punch
ANDY Murray revealed he stayed up late on Saturday night to watch the boxing prior to landing the knockout blow which floored Belgium in the Davis Cup final. Fight fan Murray put his normally meticulous preparation at risk by watching a live stream of Tyson Fury’s shock heavyweight victory against Wladimir Klitschko, but needed no additional inspiration as he fired Britain to their first victory in the world cup of team tennis for 79 years.
The Scot put in a heavyweight performance as he ran out a 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 winner against Belgium’s top player David Goffin in just shy of three hours at the Flanders Expo Centre in Ghent to give Britain an unassailable 3-1 lead in the tie.
“I did watch the boxing last night,” admitted a somewhat sheepish 28-yearold, who overcame Ruben Bemelmans on Friday and joined forces with brother Jamie to beat Goffin and Steve Darcis in the doubles. “I was in bed probably by 11.00pm. But I managed to find a stream of the boxing online and I watched it. I always get a bit nervous watching boxing, especially heavyweights. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing for me to do.
“I’m obviously happy to be part of a great weekend of British sport,” he added. “But I didn’t need any inspiration this weekend. I didn’t need that from a boxer or anything else. I think that’s the case for all of the team. This competition, winning the event, for all of us was motivation enough.”
While the Scot can now add his name to that of Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka in a recent trend of world class players to claim this title, others also took ownership of a success which was one of the more remarkable in the 115-year history of this trophy. One bookmaker is already paying out on bets that they will win team of the year at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards, unsurprising considering that when Leon Smith took over the captaincy in 2010 they were facing a play-off to avoid demotion to the lowest rung of the competition. At numerous points along the way, the journey might have gone down a different route, with the sense everything was clicking into place this year only beginning to crystallise around the time of the 3-1 win against France..
While he made himself unavailable for duty for a while, Murray never stopped loving this competition. It is only its timing, often immediately after the Grand Slams, which was problematic. This one topped a decade of Davis Cup action for the World No 2, 10 years on from his debut as a 17-year-old in a doubles rubber alongside David Sherwood. “Always when I’ve played Davis Cup, since the first time, I was unbelievably passionate, and I loved it,” he added. “But also I know this team extremely well. Because we’ve been together for such a long time, there’s a stronger bond between us than there has been in the past. A lot of us are close friends. It means a lot to do it with them.”
While captain Smith was tight lipped about his future, Murray has already given a commitment to be part of the team for the 2016 opener against Japan in Birmingham. But if the stars don’t align perfectly next time so be it. “Hopefully we can win it again next year or we can go on to win Grand Slams and Wimbledon or Olympics and stuff,” he said. “But this will definitely be the highlight, or one of the highlights, of all of our careers. So we have to make sure we enjoy tonight and the next couple of days because I know how much hard work and effort goes into moments like this.”
Ward, a veteran of that first tie with Smith in Eastbourne, who had been lined up for the fifth rubber, was relieved to find his services weren’t required. “Obviously I was waiting back in the locker room ready to play if needed,” he said. “Even when he was two sets up, I was still not wanting to go out in case he [Andy] looked at me and snapped and thought, ‘he thinks it’s over already’.”
While LTA chief executive described Murray as “a warrior”, Andy’s mum Judy was left hoping this triumph could be a catalyst for growth in the sport. “It’s been a great team effort,” she said. “I hope British tennis can build on it.”
I know this team extremely well. We’ve been together for such a long time. A lot of us are close friends. It means a lot to do it with them
MURRAY: The Scot was overcome with emotion after sealing the trophy