Leon Smith’s Great Britain are back in the elite Davis Cup World Group after victory over Croatia in the World Group play-off on the clay courts of Umag. They’re back with the world’s best for thee first time since 2008.
Read our round-up of the superb weekend for British tennis.
Andy Murray’s inclusion in the squad was clearly a huge lift for the Brits. He began with a comfortable 6-3 6-0 6-3 victory over US Open boys’ singles champ Borna Coric, who offered glimpses into the future but never displayed enough to trouble the US Open semi-finalist. Following the conclusion of the match, Murray said his back was sore – leaving him to ponder whether he should risk himself in the next day’s doubles match.
Dan Evans served up some shocks at the US Open and walked away from his best slam performance yet with a huge pay cheque. Fresh from an amazing showing in New York, the Birmingham lad was defeated by Croatia’s No 1, in the absence of Cilic, Ivan Dodig, the world number 35; 6-3 6-2 6-3. Evans was simply outclassed and the quick adaption from the hard courts to clay, a surface that isn’t favoured by him, proved too much.
1-1 going into the third rubber made the doubles pivotal to the tie’s outcome. The question overnight was whether Murray would, as planned, partner Colin Fleming or whether Jonny Marray would step in to keep the Wimbledon champion fresh for Sunday’s singles.
Colin Fleming did eventually end up partnering Murray. The pair reached the Montreal Masters final last month. Ivan Dodig, who, like Murray, was scheduled to play all three days, and Mate Pavic provided the test this time.
GB did come out on top with a four-set 6-3 6-2 6-7 6-1 win. The Brits controlled the match for the vast majority and ensured that Croatia’s third set tie-break win didn’t spark a comeback.
During the match, regular singles play Andy showed all the credentials of a more frequent doubles player – his shots were impressive, including a lovely first-set lob over Dodig. Fleming showed excellent reflexes throughout and the pair collectively proved to be defensively tight and tough nuts to crack at the net.
2-1 into the final day meant GB were just one match from the World Group.
Murray stepped out for his third outing in three days knowing a victory over Dodig would send the many Brits in Umag and watching tennis enthusiasts back home into euphoria. Dodig had it all to do.
Thankfully he showed no signs of any problems with his back and cruised to a efficient and tidy 6-4 6-2 6-4 win. The match ended with a bit of controversy when a Dodig shot, that would’ve gave him a break point, was called out by the overruling umpire.
After that win, which meant the three day-long contest was all over, Dan Evans got on court to play a dead rubber with Mate Pavic. The Brit won 6-4 7-6 to make the victorious few days’ work sound more convincing. 4-1 to GB.
Good work from the whole team because, despite Murray playing every day in this tie, it has been quite a team effort – stemming from the magnificent win over Russia earlier this year when Andy didn’t take part.
Murray confirmed that he’ll play all World group ties next year, if he is fit. His influence will be key if Britain are to excel on the bigger and tougher stage.
The draw for the World Group will take place on Wednesday. It’ll be interesting to see who GB are drawn against.
– Nathan Morley