Sunday 18 August 2019

Andy Murray on top of the world after winning Davis Cup for Great Britain

Andy Murray
Andy Murray

Eleanor Crooks

Andy Murray described winning the Davis Cup as the most emotional moment of his career as he celebrated an achievement he never imagined would be possible.

The world number two clinched the point Great Britain needed to beat Belgium on the final day of play at a deafening Flanders Expo in Ghent with a 6-3 7-5 6-3 victory over David Goffin.

The final act of a gripping match was one of its highlights, Murray defending for all he was worth before curling a delicious lob over his opponent and inside the baseline.

Murray collapsed to the clay, head buried in his hands, before being mobbed by captain Leon Smith and his team-mates.

Murray made sure he broke away to shake hands with Goffin and the whole Belgian team, and was then raised aloft by the rest of the British team.

"It's obviously an amazing feeling," he said. "I imagine it will take a few days before it really sinks in. I probably haven't been as emotional as that after a match that I've won. I've been pretty upset having lost matches before. 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. It's great."

Another of Fred Perry's records has now bitten the dust, with Murray leading Britain to a 10th Davis Cup title 79 years after their ninth.

The achievement is all the more remarkable considering Britain's lack of strength in depth and the low base from which they started when Smith took over as captain five and a half years ago.

At that stage Britain were ranked 43rd having just lost to Lithuania and faced a play-off with Turkey to avoid being relegated to the bottom tier of the competition. Now they sit on top of the world.

Other players have contributed, not least James Ward, Dan Evans and a number of doubles players in helping Britain get back to the World Group, while Ward and Jamie Murray, alongside his brother in doubles, have also posted wins this year.

But in winning 11 of the 12 rubbers it has taken for Britain to clinch the title, there is no doubt one man is primarily to thank.

Smith said: "It has to be one of the best achievements of all time. It's incredible for all of us to watch how he's managed to win that many rubbers, especially when you look back at the tie against France and also the Australia match, obviously a lot of fatigue, he managed to find a way through.

"I hold Andy in the absolutely highest esteem. I can't talk highly enough about him. He's put his whole body, his whole mind on the line every single time for the team. We're all grateful and proud of him."

Smith was Murray's childhood coach and the 28-year-old was full of praise for the remarkable job done by his fellow Scot. "Obviously since Leon has become captain, you don't need to talk about it, you just look at the results and see where we've come from," he said.

It will be a concern to the team and the Lawn Tennis Association that Smith, who has previously made public his ambitions to coach on the tour, pointedly failed to affirm his commitment to the job.

Murray stayed up late on Saturday night to watch Tyson Fury become Britain's latest world heavyweight champion, something he admitted "probably wasn't the smartest thing to do".

The atmosphere was more akin to a boxing bout than a tennis match as Murray and Goffin, who like his opponent played on all three days of the tie, took to the court.

It was highly competitive throughout, with Murray never able to pull away from the tenacious Goffin, who had failed to take a set off the Scot in two previous matches.

The tension was at its peak in the second set before Murray finally broke through in the 11th game. He was able to show his extra quality when it counted, particularly on serve, and ultimately that proved enough for victory.

Murray is only the third player after John McEnroe and Mats Wilander to win eight singles matches in a year since the current format was introduced while his 11-0 record in live rubbers is unmatched.

Murray said: "I was pumped the whole match. The crowd obviously helped with that. I just wanted to try and win that final point. Obviously to have won all of the singles matches I played this year is great. It doesn't happen too often. I'm proud of that."

Goffin, who won Belgium's only point with his comeback victory over Kyle Edmund on Friday, conceded the better team had won.

He said: "I think after a match like this, I have no regrets. We can all be proud. Even if we lost the tie today, I think we played an unbelievable season in Davis Cup. I think Andy and Great Britain deserves the trophy today."

Murray joins his fellow 'big four' rivals Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in having won the Davis Cup and it is an achievement he will treasure alongside his grand slam titles and Olympic gold medal.

He said: "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. Hopefully we can win it again next year or we can go on to win grand slams and Wimbledon or Olympics and stuff. But this will definitely be 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. You don't want to let it pass by without enjoying it."

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