By Ros Satar
- Andy Murray levels the Davis Cup quarter-final between Great Britain and France with a straight sets win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-5 7-6(10) 6-2
- James Ward started the day with a straight sets defeat to Gilles Simon 6-4 6-4 6-1
- Doubles could well prove decisive
Andy Murray kept Great Britain’s hopes of reaching the Davis Cup semi-final alive, leveling the tie at the end of Day One.
Murray rose to the occasion, playing in the second rubber of the day, after James Ward struggled to handle Gilles Simon. The pair, who practice regularly, were the opening act on a great day of tennis, with a fantastic atmosphere.
Ward did well to stay in contention with Simon in the first and second set, slipping to just a single break deficit, but in the second set Simon changed gears. With Ward on the defensive, he could not find any rhythm to play more aggressively.
Ward said, after the match: “The guy moves very well, and even when I feel like I’m being aggressive, you can’t go too much because he gets a lot of balls back. It was very windy, it was moving around a lot there, so to time the ball perfect is very difficult. Sometimes you’re more worried about getting the ball in than trying to go for a winner and close to the line because the margins are small.
“He hits the ball very flat and moves very well, so even if guys are serving well, he returns well, he makes a lot of balls. And he’s pretty crafty, he puts the ball in places that are not always easy to attack from.”
Murray was swiftly out on court, and it was a competitive affair for the first two sets, Murray just clinching the first one with a timely break, and consolidation, before whipping up the British support, which seemed at times to be overshadowed by a very lively French contingent.
He quickly fell under the cloche though (as well as both he and Tsonga examining the grass a lot closer than perhaps they would have liked). Tsonga struck with an early break at the start of the second set, and it was a few agonizing games before Murray broke back and kept things on an even keep into the second set tie-breaker.
It looked as though France were going to run away with it, but Murray clambered back into contention, as the pair swapped set points between them until again, France flinched first.
With a two sets lead, both sides left the court, with Tsonga having a medical timeout, not that it seemed to do him any good, as he quickly fell behind with Murray building up a 4-1 lead.
Tsonga battled valiantly for another game, before Murray squandered the three commanding match points he built up, finally closing the book on the day.
After the match Murray said: “I thought I did well. I mean the atmosphere helps. The crowd was great today, especially the important moments and yeah I was happy with the job I did today. I didn’t feel like I played amazing. I played some good shots at important times but it was very tough conditions today. It was extremely windy on the court today and swirling around a lot so it wasn’t easy to play very well.”
As always the pivotal rubber will be the doubles and no sooner as he had struck the last ball, the speculation was rife – would he partner his brother, Wimbledon men’s doubles runner up Jamie, or would Murray senior partner Dom Inglot once more.
Smith will discuss with Murray and the entire team, and Andy admitted that he would have to think carefully and be very honest about how he was feeling after a long few months.
The Doubles will start at 1pm BST.