Andy Murray believes the partisan Belgium fans are helping Great Britain towards the goal of a first Davis Cup title in almost 80 years.
Murray overcame a point penalty for swearing as well as some baiting by rowdy Belgian supporters to keep Great Britain on track for Davis Cup glory, after Kyle Edmund was unable to capitalise on a two-set lead in the earlier rubber against David Goffin, going down 6-3, 6-1, 2-6, 1-6, 0-6.
If he was to play like that against Darcis, it’s not easy for DarcisMurray on Edmund
Murray secured the win expected over Belgian No 3 Ruben Bemelmans, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5. The straight sets nature of the win was particularly satisfying in view of the exertions to come, with the score delicately balanced at 1-1 prior to today’s doubles rubber.
But it was far from straightforward for Murray, who was penalised a point in the fifth game of the third set for an audible obscenity. It resulted in a long conversation between Murray and the umpire, Carlos Ramos, because the Scot had not realised he had already been warned.
“I wasn’t aware I’d been given the first warning,” he explained. “I didn’t hear it and I had no idea. So when I lost the point, I just went up and asked the umpire why? He said: ‘for a second warning’. I didn’t know I had the first one, so it was a bit confusing. It’s obviously very loud after the point,” he continued. “That was why I went to speak to the umpire, because literally I had no idea about either of the warnings since you can’t hear anything on the court.
“So I’m surprised he [the umpire] could hear what I was saying…”
Murray relished playing the pantomime villain, celebrating theatrically when he saved a set point in the third, and making a performance out of waiting for complete silence between points. He later explained that such pauses help him recover physically between points, so the longer it takes the crowd to settle, the better.
“Although the match was two hours ten minutes long, we’re also taking sometimes like 45 seconds between points to wait for the crowd to calm down and stay quiet,” he noted. “It gives you longer to recover between points, which is fine on a weekend like this for me.”
Murray doesn’t feel today’s doubles rubber, when he and brother Jamie will play two of Steve Darcis, Kimmer Coppejans and Goffin, will necessarily prove pivotal.
Though Edmund tasted heartbreak at losing a two-set lead he showed what he is capable of against Goffin, while James Ward could step in against probably Darcis tomorrow.
“I don’t think it [the doubles rubber] is as important as in some of the ties,” said Murray.
“I believe if we lost the doubles, we could win two singles on Sunday. Kyle could have won today. That’s possible. If he was to play at that level against Darcis, then it’s not an easy match for Darcis.
“The fifth point, the fifth rubber is Darcis or James or Kyle, whoever plays that match, will never have experienced anything like that before. So it’s not a gimme. It’s not like James [Ward] can’t win that match.
“I believe in myself, I believe in me and Jamie as a doubles team, as well,” he added. “But I don’t think for either team, if you lose it then the tie is over because I think both teams are capable of winning all of the points here.”