Scottish Daily Mail
ON-SONG ANDY A BIG HIT AS HE FEELS THE LOVE
THEY started him off with a chorus of Loch Lomond and celebrated his victory with a burst of a Proclaimers number now forever associated with the glories of Glasgow 2014. If the music was a little on the clichéd side of corny, no one could fault the star turn. Oh, and the support act wasn’t bad, either. Handed the responsibility of leading Britain to a first home victory over the USA since 1935, Andy Murray — who knows a thing or two about shattering seemingly unbreakable curses — responded with exactly what the 7,500 fans expected on a day of high drama all round for Team GB. These are Murray’s ain folk and they turned up to hail him. Even before James Ward’s five-set thriller against big John Isner took an already wonderful session into extra time, they got what they wanted. Moments of exquisite timing, physical strength and almost artistic creativity. Even a patented third-set wobble. You don’t have to be a tennis fan, don’t need to revel in the technicalities of every inside-out sliced backhand cross-court half-volley, to appreciate the sight of Murray, in person and for real, playing the game. When he is at his best, as he was in the opening two sets yesterday, the Scot shows all the footwork of those world-class pugilists he idolises. He has got more than a little of the power possessed by those masters of the sweet science, too. Tim Henman recalls being hugely impressed when hitting with a 17-year-old Murray, the Scot’s predecessor as British No 1 noting: ‘He got more on it with less.’ Explaining himself further, the Englishman says it wasn’t speed, but weight, that the youngster put behind every groundstroke. If watching Murray in full flow can occasionally feel like witnessing a king of the ring working on the heavy bag, this may explain it. That heft behind each swing of the racquet looked like it would crush poor Donald Young as Team GB’s leader broke his serve twice inside 15 minutes, the American unable to live with Murray’s pace — or his ability to turn the momentum of a rally with one shot. All nectar to the fans who filled every seat in the house. Even those described as ‘restricted view’, a marketing term for ‘within a drop shot of being outside the building’. Why the mania? People don’t pay good money, serious money, just out of some patriotic urge to back our boy(s). They thronged to this because Murray does things that make you laugh out loud, so improbable are they in their imagination, never mind execution. Imperious in his first two sets, taking them 6-1, 6-1 in just a smidgen over three quarters of an hour, he left Young doing a fair impression of Murray in one of his moods, berating himself loudly for making mistakes. In defence of the player ranked 47th in the world, for most of the afternoon he was up against a miracle worker, finding angles that would have baffled Pythagoras. To use the American’s own words: ‘I was getting whupped pretty good.’ Somehow, though, Young found a way to slow Murray down. If no one is any longer surprised by a little third-set drift by the Scot, it did rather interrupt the flow of the party. A blip would not have featured on the wish list of the vast majority here. They had been whipped into such a frenzy by the slightly bizarre opening ceremony, four singers murdering a couple of Queen numbers in a vaguely operatic style, that only a one-sided pasting would have been deemed acceptable. In fairness to the tenors and sopranos, they did a more than decent job of the anthems. But the atmosphere was always going to be more selfgenerated than pasted-on. The noise from the crowd, the bright glare from the overhead spots … thunderbolt and lighting, very, very frightening? It certainly seemed to unnerve Young, whose third-set rallying to the colours of Old Glory proved only an interruption to the pre-scripted procession. There was drama enough in that fourth set, our man breaking the tension with one massive break of serve that had the punters — including mum Judy – going ever so civilly berserk. Victory followed swiftly — and saw Murray celebrate with a giant leap, an extended double-fist pump and a primal scream that proved how much this meant to him. Asked to set an example, he had put the first point on the board. Cue the inevitable burst of 500Miles, last heard in front of this size of crowd when Usain Bolt was jigging along in the home straight at Hampden. Da-da-da dun-diddle, dun-diddle, dun-diddle duh da-da, indeed. The second tie of the day, GB No 2 Ward taking on top-ranked American Isner, all eight feet and 13 inches of him, was always going to be more of a contest. What we got was a match that had all but the early corporate cop-outs chewing nails and seeking extra lubrication for vocal chords worn down to the rivets. Ward loves the Davis Cup and raises his game when he flies the flag. His efforts in recovering from two sets down, pushing this match close to the five-hour mark, against an opponent over 90 places above him in the world rankings, deserved to be rewarded with such a thrilling victory. As a result of Ward’s efforts, a win in today’s doubles would give GB an unassailable lead, meaning tomorrow’s reverse singles matches are actual, official, undeniable and original dead rubbers. Ah well, who’s in the mood for a party, then? Fire up the Runrig, Mr DJ. Turn it all the way up to 11.