At the other end of the court, bristling with aggression and intent, Andy Murray was not to be stopped. This was his moment. This was his dream. This was history. And with one final lob, he beat Goffin 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 to win the Davis Cup for Britain for the first time since 1936. Three sets, almost three hours and 79 years of waiting was over.
As Murray fell to the floor, head in hands, the tears flowed. He had pitched every ounce of strength and ambition into this project and, finally, he had his reward. He did not know whether to laugh or cry – so he did both in turn.
On paper, yesterday’s match was Murray’s for the taking. Goffin had looked petrified for the first two sets of the opening rubber, frozen by nerves, pressure and the carefree hitting of Kyle Edmund. He got that win in the end, but the tension of the final was clearly getting to him. Then there was his record against Murray: played two, lost two. Not so much as a set won. Murray, then, was the overwhelming favourite to win the rubber, finish off the tie and secure his place as one of the greatest sportsmen in British history.
But the Davis Cup does strange things to even the most ordinary players – and Goffin is far from ordinary. Lightning quick, aggressive from the baseline and, yesterday, growing in stature with every point he won, there were no sign of nerves. Instead, there was a grim determination to find a way to stop Murray and spoil Scotland’s party.
Murray, though, was ready and waiting. He expected the best from Goffin and he was not disappointed. But no matter how hard the Belgian tried, the sheer power – both physical and mental – of the Scot was too much for him.
Murray reserved his biggest serves for the biggest moments. Call that a break point? Get your racket strings on that, then, was the message as another service winner swung away from the Belgian’s reach. Murray ran and scrambled and scampered; he covered the court like an Olympic sprinter to pick up Goffin drop shots and turn them into winners of his own. He leant into his backhand and clattered his forehand. Whatever Goffin threw at him, he matched it and sent it back.
The match hinged on the second set, all 75 minutes of it. Goffin rummaged deep into his kitbag and found a few extra ounces of power to put into his forehand and a little more fizz to add sparkle to his volleys. And then Murray broke him in the 11th game and that was the end of that. Two sets to the good, it was hard to imagine that a straight sets win was not on the cards.
But still Goffin would not go away. A momentary dip in concentration at the start of the third set cost Murray his only service game (and earned him a warning for effing and blinding in fury on the back of it). No matter: he made amends immediately, breaking back and setting off on a run to collect six of the next seven games.
Yet if that sounds like one-way traffic, it was anything but. Goffin stuck to his task and he tried everything he knew to hang on.
Finally, though, as the Flanders Expo echoed to the plaintive cry of “Da-Veed; Da-Veed”, Goffin had to admit that his very best was simply not a match for Murray. Not yesterday. Not in a Davis Cup final. Not when history beckoned and Murray was eyeing what may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to win the trophy.
The crowd howled but their cries fell on deaf ears. Murray’s lob landed on a sixpence, the Scot collapsed in tears and the celebrations began. Murray and his brother had amassed the necessary points to win the Davis Cup for the nation: The Murrays 3, Belgium 1. That really was one for the history books.