JUBILANT Andy Murray last night admitted playing through the pain barrier to take Great Britain to within one tie of their first Davis Cup triumph since Fred Perry and Bunny Austin lifted the trophy in 1936.
Murray’s straight-sets defeat of Bernard Tomic yesterday completed an almost single-handed 3-2 semi-final win over Australia in Glasgow and sent them into a first final for 37 years. There they face an away tie with Belgium, who edged out Argentina in the other semi-final and will likely elect to stage the late November showdown on clay, the Scot’s least favourite surface.
Murray, who won both of his singles matches and joined elder brother Jamie to claim an epic double clash on Saturday, has already led Britain further than any player in his lifetime.
Yet he revealed that he had been more preoccupied with the resurfacing of back problems than his place in history as he once again followed in the footsteps of Perry, whose Wimbledon success he also emulated.
“I wasn’t really thinking about history or anything like that; I was just concentrating on the points,” he said.
“I’m obviously delighted to get through. We knew it would be an incredibly difficult match to win, Australia have great depth and experience.
“I was more concerned about my back. My back has been giving me a lot of trouble this week. It’s nothing to do with the previous issues I had with my back, it’s a completely different thing.
“I don’t know exactly what happened. Sometimes after you have played a lot of tennis, when you take a break the muscles stiffen up and when you come back you can have some issues.”
Great Britain captain Leon Smith praised his star man, who also contributed to all three points in the July quarter-final with France at Queen’s Club. “He’s quite good, isn’t he?” Smith quipped. “It’s pretty amazing watching Andy’s work over the whole weekend. He fights so hard and he’s got the quality. He executed it perfectly today.”
Tomic, who earned Australia’s first point by beating British No8 Dan Evans in Friday’s singles matches, hailed the fervent Scottish crowd and tipped Murray to lead the team to glory. Evans also lost yesterday’s dead rubber to Thanasi Kokkinakis.
“I think whoever won the doubles was the [Davis Cup] winner,” he said. “You are not just playing against Andy Murray here; it feels like you are playing against the whole of Britain. His motivation, his presence changes every point. He’s an amazing player.”
Belgium ended an even longer wait for a return to the final, Steve Darcis’s four-set win over Federico Delbonis in Brussels ending an 111-year wait to vie for the title again. The final is due to take place on 27-29 November, a week after the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 in London, the season’s finale.
Great Britain won the last of their nine Davis Cups in 1936, when they beat Australia at Wimbledon