The Scot beat America’s John Isner 7-6, 6-3, 7-6 to give the Britons an unbeatable 3-1 lead and take them through to a meeting with France the week after Wimbledon. James Ward later conceded the dead rubber to Donald Young because of a sore knee – and the need to catch a flight – after winning the first set, making the final score 3-2.
The victory means that Great Britain are through to the last eight for the second year running, the first time they have done that since the World Group was established more than 30 years ago. As the home team against the French, GB have the right to choose the venue and the surface and, while a return to the indoor hardcourt of the Emirates Arena is implausible at that time of year, Murray – who is now back up to No 4 in the world rankings – suggested that the will is there to keep playing in Glasgow if the right location can be found.
“It’s one of the most special atmospheres I’ve ever played in,” Murray said at the end of his 7-6, 6-3, 7-6 victory over the US No 1 as he thanked the crowd for their support. “I’d imagine we’d try to play that [the quarter-final] on a grass court.
“I don’t know how many grass courts you’ve got up here in Glasgow. But, if you could lay one for the tie, the atmosphere here made such a big difference, I’m sure I would love to play here again if you could.”
Davis Cup rules state that the court must be available for practice in the five days preceding the tie, and that – not to mention the state of the court by that time – would appear to rule out Wimbledon’s Centre Court, which needs to be kept in reserve for the Monday in case the Championships run over because of bad weather. Building work on No 1 Court is to begin immediately after the fortnight, and Nos 2 and 3 are both well short of the minimum capacity of 6,000.
Devonshire Park in Eastbourne, which holds 8,000 and is home to the Aegon International women’s tournament shortly before Wimbledon, is probably favourite to hold the match. After the fervour of Glasgow, the East Sussex venue might seem deflatingly sedate, but Murray diplomatically refused to put his weight behind any one venue.
“I don’t know if that’ll be the case,” he said later in his media conference. “I don’t know where we can get 7,500 to 10,000 people sold out every single day.
“I’m not the one that makes those decisions – that’s for the LTA to make that decision and get us the venue that gives us the best chance of getting a win. I don’t have an ideal venue.”
Captain Leon Smith believes it is important to take Davis Cup matches to places which do not regularly host tournaments, but said the first criterion had to be the best surface.
“It sounded like Andy had made the decision for us out there,” the Glaswegian said. “We’ve made some loose enquiries about different places. The first thing is to pick a surface we can all agree on, then find a venue that can create an atmosphere like this. Sometimes it can be bigger numbers. Sometimes that doesn’t work – but this worked.
“Something like this, it definitely worked in Scotland. You have to look at when the tie lands in the summer, too. There will have been an awful lot of tennis in certain regions, so you want to put it somewhere that people have the hunger for more tennis. We’ll be phoning around like mad.
“Ultimately, you go with the surface that gives you the best chance of winning. The atmosphere is great – but it will be even better to be in the semi-finals.”
Smith was then asked if there was any chance of playing the tie on a grass court in Scotland. “No,” he said. “No chance. I don’t think so. But I’m not a lawn expert. So, if someone can tell me there’s a chance, I’m sure we would explore it.
“The first thing I need to do is think about the best surface. If it’s indoor hard, then why not here or somewhere near here?”
Murray was in commanding form in the third set against Isner, and might not have needed the tie-break to clinch victory had he converted one of the three break points he had in its first game. But he looked nervous in the first set, when the timing of his serve was off at times, and he had to save three set points when serving at 5-4 down before taking the tiebreak 7-4.
Isner’s great weapon is his serve, his biggest weakness his relative immobility, and Murray exploited that susceptibility in the second set with some artful shot selection. The key moment came in the sixth game, when the American failed to chase down a deep lob and was broken. The third set was tight, but Murray’s serve was far stronger by that time, and he took the tiebreak 7-4 after getting an early mini-break.
Isner, the world No 20, took responsibility for his team’s defeat. “This one’s on me,” he said. “When you look at this match-up on paper, my loss on Friday [to Ward] put us in a huge hole. It’s so disappointing for me. I certainly tried my best.
“It’s going to stick with me for a while. I feel like I let us down this week. It’s a terrible feeling.”
Great Britain have shown they are a competitive team whose less heralded members can upset the rankings. The question now is whether they are good enough to go all the way and win the cup. “It’s definitely nice to have a dream,” Smith said. “We’ve beaten a very good team today.
“Is it possible to win it? We’ve still got a bit of work to do, but we’re getting closer. We can trouble most teams, I think. There’s always a chance.”
American captain Jim Courier agreed. “When you have a great player and champion like Andy, against most teams they’re 2-0 going on, or at least they should feel like that. It only takes three [points]. When you have Andy Murray, you have a chance.”
Andy Murray (Gbr) bt Donald Young (USA) 6-1 6-1 4-6 6-2
James Ward (Gbr) bt John Isner (USA) 6-7 (4-7) 5-7 6-3 7-6 (7-3) 15-13
Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan (USA) bt Dominic Inglot and Jamie Murray (Gbr) 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-7 (8-10) 9-7
Murray (Gbr) bt Isner (USA) 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 7-6 (7-4)
Young (USA) bt Ward (Gbr) 5-7 1-0 ret
Great Britain 3 United States 2
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