By Ros Satar/Niall Clarke
- Andy Murray defeats Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-3 6-0 6-3
- Bernard Tomic defeats Dan Evans 6-3 7-6(2) 6-7(4) 6-4
- Doubles option has to include Andy Murray to keep Brit hopes alive in the tie
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND- Andy Murray steamrollered Thanasi Kokkinakis, while a spirited Dan Evans took Bernard Tomic to four sets as Great Britain and Australia are level at the end of the fist day of the Davis Cup semi-final.
Murray came out to a standing ovation when he took to the court in Glasgow with the anticipation that the world number three could guide Great Britain into the Davis Cup final.
He gave everyone a sign of things to come early by earning five break points in the Aussie’s opening three service games. Kokkinakis saved them with some bold play, but on the half dozen Murray was able to finally able to earn a breakthrough.
The set was served out comfortably 6-3, and in the second he really began to turn on the style. The Glasgow crowd roared behind their man as he would race through the second set 6-0, only dropping five points.
Everything was clicking in his game and Murray would hardly lose any points on serve the entire match. The Aussie managed to get on the board in the third set, but it did nothing to his confidence as he was broken for a fifth time at 1-1 with a nice cross court return winner.
If it was not already, the match was seemingly never in doubt with the 19 year old needing a miracle to overturn this deficit. Unfortunately from an Australian perspective he could not lift his game enough to turn the tables on a superb Murray. The world number three, keen to waste as little energy as possible, would break again to seal a 6-3, 6-0, 6-3 victory and give Great Britain the lead in the tie.
“I started the match really well,” said Murray of his performance post match.
“At the beginning he had some big serves, and once I got that break at the middle part of the first set I started to just continue to play better and he wasn’t getting as many free points on his serve after that.”
It was a simply sublime performance from the British number one. He only lost six points on serve the entire match and only allowed his opponent 21% of the points on his second serve. The Aussie was simply blown away.
“There’s not too many players in the world that get close to him when he’s playing like that,” Kokkinakis said post-match.
“I just got outplayed today, just too good. I guess he knows my game and the court plays nicely for him, he was able to do what he wanted. Just shows where I need to get to. I was already motivated but that gives me more to work on and see where I’m going to get too.”
Of course the crowd played its part in helping Murray to victory too. The capacity at the Emirates Arena were loud and rhythmic in their support for the world number 3.
“Obviously it gives you a lift,” said Murray.
“It’s a big occasion and to have the support behind you makes, it makes a huge difference. I don’t know why that it, but it’s the case in every single sport in my opinion. I don’t know any football teams that play worse when they play at home, you know.
“It’s… all of the British performed I would say better at the Olympics when it was held in London, yeah. It’s just it helps when you have the backing of the crowd, it makes a difference.”
Murray also hit 10 aces today so therefore will donate £500 to help with the refugee crisis. The Brit is donating £50 for every ace he hits from now until the end of the season.
The question ahead of Evans v Tomic was whether lightning would strike twice would have probably been met with a quick gander at the rankings and a retort of ‘not bloody likely!’ and certainly after early an early break to the Aussie and a straight forward rounding out of the first set, coupled with another break at the dawn of the second making it look like a foregone conclusion.
With Andy Murray distracted by screen during his press conference, the howls and cheers gave away the picture that Evans was clawing his way back to not only break for level terms but actually have the advantage in the second set, making the Aussie force a tie-break. The momentum stayed with the visitors and it was looking an awfully long way back for the Brummie.
Another early break made it look as though we were all heading for a night out in Glasgow, but Tomic struggled late in the set to hold off the tenacious Brit and what advantage he had in the tiebreak was whittled away.
Evans wisely took a moment to let the adulation of the crowd before serving it out, and no doubt reminded himself of what it felt like to be the centre of attention on the big occasions once more.
The doubles lottery comes to pass once again, and currently the nominations are US Open semi-finalist Dom Inglot pairing a two-=time Slam finalist this year Jamie Murray against Lleyton Hewitt and Sam Groth.
In March the home crowd were denied the narrative of the Bryan Brothers against the Murray brothers – Inglot and Murray (J) put up a great fight but in the end the Americans edged it, but with James Ward having defeated John Isner the pressure had been off Murrray (A) to come up with the three day good.
It was a different story in Queens against the French, as Ward struggled to continue the momentum and Andy Murray was pressed into service after a long European stint, with deep runs at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
On that day it was brother Jamie who held the team up, as Murray junior was all but dead on his feet. We won’t know until anywhere up to 12pm on Saturday if the Stirling University Barmy Army will have a lot more to sing (!) about.
Murray, being interviewed (and indeed distracted by the screens and the cheers coming from next door) said: “Obviously now I have the option to be picked I think as the match was quick, and yeah obviously this match hasn’t finished yet either so we’ll talk about it this evening.”
With Evans failing to live up to Smith’s gamble, albeit with some gusto – it really feels a foregone conclusion that it will be the brothers Murray that will have to take to the court to give the hosts the best chance of the win.
In the past they have not been the best combination – Murray A runs for every thing all the time, while Murray J was once a liability with a hit and hope serve. But the younger Murray acknowledged that times have changed and for a two-time Slam finalist, the results have proved that.
He said: “I think [Jamie’s] made huge improvements in his game, and I think the Davis Cup matches he’s played this year have helped, and playing in front of big crowds and against top teams, and seeing if you can hang with them, and beat some of the best players.. he obviously nearly got the win against the Bryans, and the big match against France too in Davis Cup definitely helped in that respect. He’s clearly worked extremely hard, dedicated himself to the game and taking it as seriously as ever and the results have got much better because of it.”
Play continues at the Emirates Arena with the doubles rubber at 1pm BST.