By Ros Satar, in Glasgow
- Andy Murray (GBR) def. Guido Pella (ARG) 6-3 6-2 6-3
- Deciding rubber sees Dan Evans take on Leonardo Mayer.
GLASGOW, UK – It really had to be one more push for Andy Murray as he battled past Guido Pella and injury to set Great Britain up with the deciding rubber for a spot in the Davis Cup final.
It was a good start for the Brit, with an early break to set the scene, jumping out to a 4-1 lead over the Argentine leftie. There were still a few lapses and the first serve that was so lacking n his first match had periods of drifting in and out.
Pella had some good variety to his shots, and tried to mix things up and showed he could stay in the long rallies – perhaps that was the strategy although you would have to give Murray the advantage over the majority of them as he wrapped up the first set with some good serving (and some serve meandering too).
The Brit really piled on the pressure at the start of the second set, forcing to save seven break points before the first sit-down – six in one game. But credit where it is due to Pella – he came out the winner of that long hold with some great tic-tac-toe with Murray.
It is a funny thing – you can never tell what a big game of break points lost/saved can do to a player – would Murray be deflated that he had not put away Pella. Would the Argentine struggle? The answer was the latter, as Murray broke for a 4-1 lead.
Towards the end of that set Pella started to look a little laboured, as a couple of slaps into the net showed as Murray closed out the set with another weary looking return netted from the Argentine.
By now though concern was mounting as to Murray’s fitness. Although committed to the points, he would double over or pull up lame after the longer exchanges, with the trainer coming on and a lengthy medical time out off court for the Brit.
He would come trotting back – perhaps trying to psyche out the opposition, but now was not the time for any more lengthy heroics. We needed quick points and clinical finishing. A tragically late call gave Murray the break he needed and he would have dearly loved to break for the cushion but some monster serves from Pella kept them in the running for just a little longer.
A little bit of luck with a fortuitous net-cord set him on his way as Pella swiped the ball into the net for Britain to have the decider.
It has been a long and gruelling summer for Murray but ultimately a rewarding one. It has seen him with a second Wimbledon title, bringing his tally to three Grand Slams and he became the first tennis player to successfully defend his Olympic title.
But the toll has been taken as he explained, regarding the injury.
“It was a nervous moment because I’ve never really had muscle injuries before. The two matches I had to withdraw from, one was with my wrist, and the other my back, which is the joint, and I’ve never had like sharp pain in my muscle before, so that was worrying for me and thankfully managed to get it done in straight sets.
“I was still moving OK. But it’s just that the pain, when you get pain in your body, that distracts you, you start thinking about that rather than hitting the ball and the tactics and what you’re trying to do in the match. It’s distracting because you are worried about the outcome. I wasn’t thinking about withdrawing it was more concern about how my leg was.”
He continued: I think this weekend I just accepted it better than I have in the past. I expected to feel tired and expected my body not to feel great and knew I would be in some pain this weekend. And spoke to my team about that that it was going to be really hard. So my expectations were less. Sometimes I’ve come into weekends and thought this is going to be alright, and then at the end of it felt horrendous.
“The match against Japan, when I hadn’t played for a while. Physically I was shattered. Afterwards I wasn’t so emotionally tired but had just become a father for the first time, so that was a challenging kind of period as well. Because I accepted it, I actually handled it OK.”
Of course the quote of the day had to come as he described how he probably would have been irritated if he was left waiting, after he had taken an 8-minute medical time out, with a singularly Murray-esque response.
“Well, the reason I had to go off there is because I can’t get my nuts out on court. I had to take my cloths off to have the strapping done. It’s high up on my right leg.
“Obviously I was in the driving seat at the time. I was in control of the match, but still I then broke, held the next game and broke serve and that was it. Yeah if you’re the one that’s sitting and waiting for someone who’s gone off to the toilet or having medical time out, it’s frustrating.”
Moreover – Dan Evans was no surprise for the Brits for the final rubber, but with Leonardo Mayer coming in for Juan Martin Del Potro, were there any eyebrows raised in the British camp? Not necessarily from Murray.
He said: “Yes, surprised, but I think it’s understandable. He’s had so many injury problems, that everyone just is forgetting about. He’s hardly played tennis for the last three years. And he knows his body. I’m sure he’s got advice from people who are much more aware of what he’s gone through than any of us.
“His decision should be respected more than anyone else because he’s worked so hard to get back to the position that he’s in now, playing against the best players in the world and beating them. His decision 100%should be respected here because he’s been through a lot and none of us know what that’s like.”
The Davis Cup final will take place between 25-27 November.
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