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Andy Murray is delighted to fire up Davis Cup bid

By Eleanor Crooks

Andy Murray produced his most remarkable Davis Cup effort yet to hold off an inspired Kei Nishikori and send Great Britain through to the quarter-finals for a third straight year.

Murray led by two sets to love but faced losing from that position for the first time in 11 years only to grind out a 7-5 7-6 (8-6) 3-6 4-6 6-3 victory after four hours and 54 minutes at Birmingham's Barclaycard Arena.

That clinched a 3-1 first-round win over Japan for Britain, with Murray winning all three points for the fourth successive tie.

He said: "The crowd helped for sure. I was struggling a little at the end of the third and a little bit throughout the fourth.

"There were long rallies, he was pushing me quite far off the baseline. I was trying to keep the points short but in the fifth I had to grit my teeth and fight hard.

"I was calmer in the fifth set. I was panicking a little bit at the end of the third when I was struggling physically, I didn't quite know what to do.

"In the fifth I went back to what I was doing in the first. Positive energy, fight for every single point and that was enough.

"This team did something special last year and I would like to do something similar this year."

Captain Leon Smith reserved the highest praise for his main man, saying: "I'm lost for words. He's just a man of steel. You have to give a lot of credit to Kei. He played a great match.

"It's quite astonishing considering Andy hasn't played since the Australian Open final. He's amazing."

Murray can now head home to Surrey to spend a bit more time with daughter Sophia before flying to Indian Wells for the first Masters event of the year.

The Scot said: "It's Kim's first Mother's Day. I'll try to get back for bath time and put her to sleep."

Nishikori showed the danger facing Murray in the opening point, putting together a series of crisp groundstrokes before finding the line with a forehand.

But over the first two sets it appeared a classic Murray Davis Cup performance, with the Scot dallying with danger but finding a way to come through.

Nishikori recovered from 4-1 to 4-4 in the opener only for two double faults in the final game to give Murray a golden chance.

He still had to work extremely hard to take it, finally forcing Nishikori into a mistake.

Murray was the one to go down an early break in the second and, when he missed a break point to get back on level terms in the fourth game, he smashed his racquet.

He could not take two set points in the 12th game and then saw a 4-0 lead in the tie-break turn into a 5-4 deficit.

But he found a way, saving a set point with an ace and then taking his first chance when some trademark great defence paid off with a Nishikori error.

There was little indication that things were about to take a downward turn in the third set until a double fault gave Nishikori a break point at 3-4. He took it and then clinched the set.

Nishikori sapped Murray's energy in the fourth set and served it out to force a decider.

Fatigue was taking over Murray's body and omens were not good when he dropped serve at the start of the fifth but the noise level reached fever pitch as he hit back with three games in a row.

Nishikori broke back but then Murray slammed a forehand winner down the line. Murray withstood pressure to hold and created two match points at 5-2, both of which Nishikori saved.

But the Japanese resistance ended at the fourth time of asking, beaten into submission by the determination of Murray.

Belfast Telegraph


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