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Fired-up Murray brings Great Britain back all square

By Eleanor Crooks

Published 28/11/2015

It’s mine: Andy Murray celebrates victory with a trademark salute in his Davis Cup singles match against Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium
It’s mine: Andy Murray celebrates victory with a trademark salute in his Davis Cup singles match against Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium

Great Britain and Belgium are locked at 1-1 after the first day of play in the Davis Cup final but there was plenty of drama on the way to the expected results.

Belgium's banker was the first rubber between David Goffin and Kyle Edmund but, when the 20-year-old from Yorkshire took the opening two sets, it looked like the 13,000 fans packed into Ghent's Flanders Expo were witnessing one of the great sporting debuts.

However, Goffin discovered his form just in time and Edmund wilted physically and mentally to go down 3-6 1-6 6-2 6-1 6-0 in just his second five-set match.

As is so often the case, it was therefore left to Andy Murray to get Great Britain's first point on the board, and the world number two duly obliged with a 6-3 6-2 7-5 win over Ruben Bemelmans.

The suspicion was by playing 108th-ranked Bemelmans instead of their number two Steve Darcis, the Belgians had effectively sacrificed the second rubber in the hope it would pay off later in the tie.

But Bemelmans, a stylish left-hander and serial drop-shotter, rose to the occasion, particularly in a feisty third set where the already raucous atmosphere went up another notch.

He led 4-2 after Murray lost concentration having been given a point penalty for two audible obscenities.

Bemelmans also had a set point after Murray double-faulted but the Scot saved it, let out a huge roar, and then reeled off three games in a row to win the match.

The victory made it nine out of nine for Murray in Davis Cup this year and he will look to make it 10 alongside his brother Jamie in the doubles today.

Murray and captain Leon Smith both had conversations with umpire Carlos Ramos and referee Soren Friemel about the point penalty, and Murray revealed he was unaware he had been given either warning.

The world number two said: "It's obviously very loud after the point. That was why I went to speak to the umpire, because literally I had no idea about either of the warnings because you can't hear anything on the court. So I'm surprised he could hear what I was saying."

Murray was forced to wait time and again before serving because of the noise of the crowd and Friemel spoke to Belgian captain Johan Van Herck about it, although there was no official warning.

After surviving a 12-minute opening game, Edmund produced a stunning display of power tennis to put the pressure-laden Goffin in all sorts of trouble.

He missed a chance to win the opening set to love but held his nerve after losing three games in a row and took full advantage of Goffin's leaden arms and legs to breeze through the second.

But the 24-year-old Belgian, ranked 84 places above his opponent at 16 in the world, turned the momentum at the start of the third and never threatened to let it slip.

Tears welled up in Edmund's eyes as the match ran away from him, and he said: "I believed I could win. I knew I had the game to beat him and I was playing well enough. So that's probably why I was upset at the end."

No Davis Cup final debutant has won a live rubber but it was also a step into the unknown for Goffin, who had never come back to win from two sets down before. He said: "Kyle played an unbelievable first two sets. He was really aggressive with his forehand. It was tough to manage it because I didn't know Kyle before the match, how he plays.

"From the beginning, I was a little bit tight also. I tried to stay calm, to manage it very well. At the end I'm really happy to win the first point. People expected me to win the match, and that's what I did."

Belfast Telegraph

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