Mur­ray savours most emo­tional tri­umph as Bri­tain win Davis Cup

World No .2 pro­duces im­pe­ri­ous per­for­mance to beat David Gof­fin and clinch tro­phy for GB for first time since 1936


AN EMO­TIONAL Andy Mur­ray clinched Great Bri­tain’s first Davis Cup tri­umph for 79 years then said the ex­pe­ri­ence meant more to him than his 2013 Wim­ble­don vic­tory.

The world No. 2 joked that cap­tain Leon Smith and ev­ery mem­ber of a vic­to­ri­ous ex­tended Bri­tish team com­pris­ing his brother Jamie, Kyle Ed­mund, James Ward, Dan Evans and Dom In­glot de­served a knight­hood after his 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 vic­tory against Bel­gium’s top player David Gof­fin gave Bri­tain an unas­sail­able 3-1 lead in their fi­nal at the Flan­ders Expo Cen­tre in Ghent.

It topped a re­mark­able jour­ney from near rel­e­ga­tion to the bot­tom tier of this com­pe­ti­tion un­der Smith, with Mur­ray per­son­ally re­spon­si­ble for 11 of the points on Bri­tain’s glory run, three of them in the com­pany of his older brother Jamie.

He is the first player since Pete Sam­pras 20 years ago to se­cure all three live points which de­cided a fi­nal. He marked the mo­ment in bravura fash­ion with a trade­mark back­hand lob on match point, be­fore crum­pling to the clay. Mobbed by his team-mates, he broke off to com­mis­er­ate with the de­feated hosts.

“I’ve been pretty up­set hav­ing lost matches be­fore,” he said. “But I’d say that’s prob­a­bly the most emo­tional I’ve been after a win. It’s in­cred­i­ble that we man­aged to win this com­pe­ti­tion. I didn’t know that would ever be pos­si­ble.”

While a job lot of knight­hoods seems a lot to ask, sports­men like Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Bradley Wig­gins have all re­ceived this royal hon­our and Sir Andy does have a ring to it. “Look, I think ev­ery­one de­serves one [a knight­hood],” said the 28-year-old.

“For all of the team it’s ob­vi­ously great to have a Davis Cup next to our name. We’ll all re­mem­ber this year for the rest of our lives, re­gard­less of what hap­pens in the rest of any of our ca­reers. Noth­ing may ever top this now.”

While at pains to stress that this was a team ef­fort, Smith said that the achieve­ments of the World No 2 were up there with any in the his­tory of Bri­tish sport. “It has to be one of the best achieve­ments of all time,” said Smith.

“I mean, it’s in­cred­i­ble for all of us to watch how he’s man­aged to win that many rub­bers, that many wins, es­pe­cially when you look back at the tie in France and also the Aus­tralia match, when he ob­vi­ously had a lot of fa­tigue, and man­aged to find a way through.”

While Mur­ray has al­ready com­mit­ted to play­ing in the 2016 first round against Ja­pan, Smith re­mained tight-lipped about his fu­ture last night.

Her­ald Sport re­vealed back in July that there are hopes of per­suad­ing him to go on sec­ond­ment north of the bor­der to head up the Scot­tish coach­ing op­er­a­tion. “I think it’s re­ally im­por­tant to en­joy this mo­ment right now,” said Smith. “It is a very, very spe­cial mo­ment for all of us. We’ll just soak up the next cou­ple of days as a team to­gether, re­ally en­joy it, then we’ll see what hap­pens.”

Jamie Mur­ray, rel­e­gated to a sup­port­ing role after his hero­ics of Satur­day, said the mo­ment was the big­gest of his ca­reer, and that cel­e­bra­tions would in­clude a slap-up meal in Lon­don.

“It’s huge for me,” said Jamie. “By far the big­gest achieve­ment in my ca­reer. I’ve had an amaz­ing sea­son. This is an un­be­liev­able way to cap it off. As for cel­e­bra­tions, I don’t know. I think we’re go­ing to Nobu to­mor­row night. That’s all I know.”

TO think the week be­gan with Andy Mur­ray’s com­mit­ment to Bri­tish ten­nis be­ing openly ques­tioned. With hon­ourable men­tions to cer­tain other fam­ily mem­bers, Davis Cup cap­tain Leon Smith, the re­main­der of this team, and the best per­form­ers in the women’s and wheel­chair ver­sions of the sport, fur­ther con­fir­ma­tion ar­rived yes­ter­day that to all in­tents and pur­poses this 28-year-old from Dun­blane is Bri­tish ten­nis. No won­der some by the end of the week were call­ing for him to be knighted in light of his con­tri­bu­tion to­wards it.

The Davis Cup is a team event. And this his­toric tri­umph be­longs to ev­ery­one who con­trib­uted to­wards it. But it was Andy Mur­ray against the world yes­ter­day and that has al­ways been this ex­tra­or­di­nary young man’s favourite match-up.

At times dur­ing the af­ter­noon he would have to en­dure ill-man­nered cat calls and jeer­ing from a par­ti­san home crowd, an um­pire in Pas­cal Maria whose rem­edy for this was is­su­ing him with a time vi­o­la­tion and even a line judge who seemed de­ter­mined to cramp his style on the base­line. Not to men­tion an op­po­nent in David Gof­fin on his favoured sur­face who played above him­self over just shy of three hours at the Flan­ders Expo Cen­tre in Ghent.

By rights he should also have been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a lit­tle fa­tigue. Quite apart from be­ing his third match in a 48-hour pe­riod, this was his 98th match all told of a stel­lar, if gru­elling, sea­son. He had even bro­ken the habit of a life­time and risked his usu­ally metic­u­lous prepa­ra­tion by watch­ing a live stream of Tyson Fury’s sur­prise vic­tory against Wladimir Kl­itschko the night be­fore. But this was a heavy­weight per­for­mance from Mur­ray. Gof­fin hardly laid a glove on him

Mur­ray breaks records with such fre­quency that he may be sin­gle­hand­edly keep­ing the his­tory book in­dus­try in busi­ness. Hav­ing ended the 77-year wait for a home male win­ner of the Wim­ble­don sin­gles ti­tle back in 2013, this 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 vic­tory means that Bri­tain can call them­selves the World Cham­pi­ons of ten­nis after a 79-year wait. Fred Perry, the man whose sports­wear he used to ad­ver­tise, must won­der what item of his cloth­ing he will steal next.

When it ar­rived, the crown­ing mo­ment was al­most worth the wait. The money shot, Mur­ray’s favourite back­hand lob, ar­rived at the end of a tense 20-plus shot rally to give Bri­tain an unas­sail­able 3-1 lead. The world No.2 tum­bled to the clay in dis­be­lief, his joy­ful team-mates pil­ing on in cel­e­bra­tion. But it was typ­i­cal of the 28-year-old that even in his mo­ment of glory, he didn’t for­get his man­ners. In­stead, he pulled him­self away to com­mis­er­ate with Bel­gium cap­tain Jo­han van Herck and his van­quished op­po­nent. The wa­ter­works fol­lowed, first from a tear­ful Mur­ray – only the third man in his­tory along­side John McEn­roe and Mats Wi­lan­der to win all eight sin­gles rub­bers in a year – then when the en­tire Great Bri­tain squad doused cap­tain Leon Smith in cel­e­bra­tion.

The Flan­ders Expo Cen­tre, a large SECC-style con­struc­tion on the out­skirts of town, has been a fit­ting venue for this tie. The par­ti­san home crowd had tried ev­ery­thing in their power to put Mur­ray off on Fri­day and yes­ter­day it seemed a memo had got round that there was no point in play­ing nice. Twice in the open­ing game, Mur­ray had been forced to halt his ser­vice mo­tion due to squeals and shouts from the au­di­ence.

Mon­sieur Maria must al­ready have been con­sid­er­ing a rep­ri­mand to the Bel­gians un­der the par­ti­san rule but Mur­ray re­tained his fo­cus and served it out to 30. When Gof­fin got his first ser­vice game on the board, it equalled his to­tal tally on the play­ers’ pre­vi­ous meet­ing, a 6-1, 6-0 spank­ing ad­min­is­tered by the Scot on the hard courts of Paris ear­lier this month.

In fact, the Bel­gian had never taken a set from the Scot on ei­ther of their pre­vi­ous meet­ings and the clos­est he would ever come to a lead was a break point on the Mur­ray serve at 2-2 in that first set. On sec­ond serve, amid a ca­coph­ony from the crowd, the Scot can­nily made them wait be­fore pro­duc­ing a deep sec­ond serve which Gof­fin couldn’t tame.

Cue fist bumps with cap­tain Leon Smith at the change of ends be­fore the trav­el­ling sup­port took a page from the Bel­gians’ play­book. ‘What time is it? Break time,’ one group chanted as Gof­fin pre­pared to serve. Per­haps they knew some­thing we didn’t. Mur­ray bru­talised a Gof­fin sec­ond serve on break point for a 4-2 lead.

The world No.16 wrig­gled off the hook just long enough to make his op­po­nent serve for the set, but found Mur­ray in un­flap­pable form. The set was his, 6-3.

With a per­fect record on the 61 times this year when he has won the open­ing set, Gof­fin must have feared the worst. While he man­aged to put the Mur­ray serve un­der duress at times, the Scot was given a harsh time vi­o­la­tion early in the sec­ond set and had a break point to save, the pres­sure was mainly the other way. Soon the world No.2 was sail­ing through his ser­vice games and the pres­sure on the plucky lit­tle Bel­gian told. A bad er­ror at the net as he served at 5-5 started to eat away at his con­fi­dence and soon the Scot was serv­ing for the set.

The scor­ing sys­tem in ten­nis al­ways leaves room for sur­prise mo­men­tum swings and one ar­rived cour­tesy of Mur­ray’s only lapse of the match. He soon snapped out of it. In an in­stant, he had par­ity in the set at 2-2. Serv­ing his way con­sis­tently out of trou­ble, he cap­i­talised on the first of three break points on the Gof­fin serve for a 4-3 lead and that was pretty much that.

Bri­tish ten­nis, care of Dun­blane, Scot­land, had just be­come world cham­pi­ons.

Pic­ture: Getty

RIS­ING TO THE CHAL­LENGE: Andy Mur­ray roars with de­light as he is hoisted into the air by his Davis Cup team­mates after seal­ing the tro­phy with a straight sets win over Bel­gium’s David Gof­fin

JU­BI­LA­TION: Andy Mur­ray is warmly con­grat­u­lated by cap­tain Leon Smith and the rest of the Davis Cup team

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