Sunday, November 29, 2015

Murray ends Britain's Davis Cup drought at 79 years

Andy Murray, shown at Indian Wells in March, beat David Goffin of Belgium
in straight sets today to clinch the Davis Cup title for Great Britain. Photo by
Paul Bauman
   David Goffin played the point perfectly.
   Still, it wasn't good enough.
   After a long rally, the 5-foot-11 (1.80-meter) Belgian slugged an inside-out forehand to the corner on the indoor clay surface in Ghent, Belgium, in the Davis Cup final. Andy Murray, a 6-foot-3 (1.90-meter) Scot, replied with a cross-court backhand.
   Goffin then ripped a runaround forehand in the other corner for an apparent winner. But Murray hit a lunging cross-court forehand that barely went over the net.
  The speedy Goffin chased the ball down and hit a forehand deep to the opposite corner. But Murray, who moves exceptionally well at his size, countered with a backhand cross-court topspin lob. Goffin could only watch helplessly as the ball landed just inside the baseline.
   The sensational point gave Great Britain its first Davis Cup title in 79 years. Murray collapsed on the court with his head in his hands today after his 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 victory, clinching the best-of-five-match series 3-1. The last match between Kyle Edmund of Great Britain and Ruben Bemelmans was not played.
   "It's obviously an amazing feeling," said Murray, who won the first of his 35 tour-level titles (fourth among active players) in San Jose in 2006. "I imagine it will take a few days before it really sinks in. But 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."
   Murray, however, was the only member of the "Big Four"-- which also includes Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal -- to commit fully, if at all, to the Davis Cup this year.
   Powerful Spain did not qualify for the elite World Group because it lost at Brazil in a playoff last September without its top three singles players (Nadal, David Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez).  
   Defending champion Switzerland, playing without Federer and two-time Grand Slam singles champion Stan Wawrinka, fell at Belgium in March in the opening round of the World Group.
   Serbia, playing without the top-ranked Djokovic, lost at Argentina in the World Group quarterfinals in July.
   Murray, on the other hand, went 11-0 in Davis Cup matches this year. His 8-0 singles record tied John McEnroe and Mats Wilander for the best in a calendar year. James Ward was the only other Brit to win a singles match this year.
  Murray became the first player since Pete Sampras of the United States 20 years ago to win three live matches in a Davis Cup final. He defeated Bemelmans in straight sets on friend and teamed with his older brother, Jamie, to beat Steve Darcis and Goffin in four sets in Saturday's doubles match.
  Great Britain moved ahead of France for sole possession of third place with 10 Davis Cup titles. The United States has 32 and Australia 28.
   Murray won three titles early in his career in Northern California. He captured the Aptos Challenger 10 years ago at 18 and the now-defunct SAP Open in San Jose on the ATP World Tour in 2006 and 2007.
   In 2013, Murray became the first British man to win Wimbledon in 77 years. Fred Perry had been the last to accomplish the feat, earning the crown in 1936. That also was the last year Great Britain had captured the Davis Cup until today.
   Belgium has never won the prestigious team competition.

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