Sunday 17 December 2017

Tennis: Lithuania dash hopes of Murray appearance in Dublin

Paddy Hickey

LITTLE Lithuania dramatically shattered the hopes of Irish tennis fans of witnessing Andy Murray participating in Davis Cup action in Dublin.

Ever since the Davis Cup draw was made last September, a possible meeting between Ireland and Great Britain in a second round tie in July had captured the imagination of the Irish sporting public.

The Ireland team, without the injured Louk Sorensen, kept up their side of the bargain by demolishing Turkey 4-1 at Dublin's Fitzwilliam Club at the weekend, but the Brits, without Murray, tumbled to a shock 3-2 defeat by Lithuania in a corresponding Europe-Africa Zone Group Two first round tie at Vilnius.

With Lithuania and Britain tied at 2-2 after four rubbers, the host nation's No 2 player Laurynas Grigelis deprived Tennis Ireland of a major financial windfall when he defeated British counterpart Daniel Evans in a gripping five-setter -- 6-7 (5/7) 7-5 6-0 2-6 6-4. The groans of disappointment at the failure of the British to justify their favourites' role could be heard around Fitzwilliam, with many spectators using their iPhones to keep themselves informed on the state of play in the Vilniustie.

The home fans' expectations of a showdown with Britain were additionally heightened by the outstanding display of Sean Sorensen's side. After the two singles wins by James McGee and Conor Niland on Friday, and the doubles success of McGee and Barry King on Saturday, the Irish had set up an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-match tie, leaving yesterday's two reverse singles rubbers merely academic.

Ilhan disposed of McGee 6-2 6-4 and King edged Baris Erguden 7-6 3-6 6-2.

"Since early January, we've been talking to the RDS and CityWest with regard to where we planned to hold a tie against Britain," explained Tennis Ireland chief executive Des Allen.

"We had ruled out Fitzwlliam, because the venue would not have sufficient capacity. This weekend, we had seating accommodation for 800 people in the indoor arena, but we could increase that to 1,000. But outdoors, we would only have about 600 to 700 seats at Fitzwilliam.

"Even without Andy Murray, we were thinking in terms of providing 2,500 seats, and we would ramp that up to 4,000 if Murray was coming."

Irish Independent

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