Scottish Daily Mail

Murray and Ward lead the way for GB



This party was meant to be all about Andy Murray coming home to scotland, but the guest of honour turned out to be the 28-year-old son of a London cabbie.

Murray re s ponded to t he earsplitti­ng support f rom the people who love him the most by delivering a winning start for Great Britain against America in their Davis Cup first round knockout.

But t he f ormer Wimbledon champion’s f our- set win over Donald Young turned out to be a mere warm-up act as Glasgow’s Emirates Arena screamed on James Ward as he battled John isner to a standstill to put the home side 2-0 up with three rubbers to play.

An emotional Ward finally clinched his sixth match point to sensationa­lly beat the world No 20 6-7 (4-7), 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), 15-13, showing that he is transforme­d when playing in national colours.

his team-mates embraced him at the end of a career-best win that makes GB firm favourites now to reach the quarter finals.

Ward so often saves his best for Davis Cup, to the extent that when you see him in this competitio­n it is hard to believe that he has never cracked the top 100.

Against the UsA in san Diego 13 months ago he put another tall man, sam Querrey, to the sword with a comeback win to put Great Britain 2-0 up but isner is a tougher propositio­n altogether.

The world No 111 did little wrong in the first two sets, except for blowing the f i ve points that followed him going 4-2 up in the opening tiebreak.

One thing apparent in this match was how Britain have got the court surface right in making it relatively slow and low, and he fashioned his bounceback i n the match by keeping the ball skidding and attacking the American’s weaker backhand side.

in a 111-minute deciding set, he forced two match points at 5-4, one at 10-9 and one at 11-10, and then needed to save two break points at 11-11 before finally breaking his opponent to love to clinch the match.

The question today is whether Murray will put himself on the line and form a partnershi­p with brother Jamie f or what would be a highly-charged encounter with the world champion Bryan brothers.

After Ward’s win, he is much more likely to save himself for tomorrow’s reverse singles.

Murray completed the first leg of his task when he took down UsA No 2 Young 6-1, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 in just under two hours amid an uproarious but sporting atmosphere at t he Emirates Arena.

Apart from an untimely dip at the end of the third set, Murray was in imperious form against world number 47 Young, and you would think that he had conserved enough to step up f or the doubles if needed.

While delighted with his form on his first appearance in scotland since 2011, Murray remained cautious about whether he and Jamie would be teaming up and it may be left to Dom inglot.

‘i’d be ready to play if that is what is required but i know that playing three days in a row can be tough and t hese weekends can be challengin­g physically and mentally,’ he said.

‘There is an emotional stress and that’s why a lot of players often speak about how they feel quite fatigued after Davis Cup weekends and weeks because it is different.’

By the time he had finished the warm-up the crowd had joined in a rousing singalong to Runrig’s

Loch Lomond, and for Murray it was the perfect preparatio­n.

The atmosphere would be even more fevered if he was alongside his brother today.

‘i think when you play an indoor arena everything feels louder and the noise all stays in,’ he continued. ‘it was very nice and i used that energy and emotion very well at the beginning of the match.

‘i had a bit of a lull but i couldn’t maintain the intensity i had in the first two sets.

‘Donald didn’t start the match well, but i’m going to praise myself today, i had one unforced error in two sets.

‘That’s going to get you in a 6-1, 6-1 lead in t hese sort of encounters.

‘The pressure comes with playing for your country playing in front of a crowd that is right behind you but expects you to do well.’

Murray compared the feel of the event to what he experience­d at the 2012 Olympics in London, and he responded in much the same way.

it was certainly something completely different to the lacklustre defeat he suffered at the hands of Croatian teenager Borna Coric in Dubai last week — Murray was ever so slightly more pumped up yesterday.

The only regret i n the overall context of this World Group knockout tie is that he could not inflict on Young the kind of demoralisi­ng humiliatio­n that might prove telling tomorrow.

The whole outcome might yet c o me down to a fifth rubber between the American second string and Ward, and it would have been helpful for the British cause if he was sent into that on the back of a totally wretched loss.

But, after his heroics that spanned afternoon turning into night, that may not be necessary.

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