UMAG, CROATIA: Britain will play in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group next year after Andy Murray secured a convincing victory over Croatia here today by winning the fourth rubber of this play-off.
With Leon Smith’s team needing to win only one of today’s reverse singles to secure a return to the top tier, Murray completed the job in emphatic style, beating Ivan Dodig 64 62 64 in the fourth rubber after two hours and 21 minutes.
Murray, playing in his first Davis Cup tie for two years, has been Britain’s key performer throughout the tie, winning both his singles rubbers and yesterday’s doubles in partnership with Colin Fleming. The Wimbledon champion and world No. 3 has now won 16 singles rubbers in a row since losing his very first, against Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka eight years ago.
Roared on by a noisy British contingent in the crowd at the Stella Maris Resort, Murray made the perfect start, breaking serve in the opening game as Dodig double-faulted and then put a backhand in the net. It was the only break of the opening set, which Murray rounded off with a winning forehand pass down the line.
Dodig, nevertheless, made a fight of it, forcing his opponent into a succession of long rallies. In the absence of Marin Cilic, Dodig had been the home team’s main hope and the world No. 35 showed admirable effort throughout.
In Murray, however, he was facing an opponent relishing the chance to drive his country to victory. At 1-1 in the second set Murray broke serve with a superb volley winner and three games later the Scot denied Dodig what was to be his last chance of recovery. The Croatian forced two break points, but Murray saved the first with an ace and the second by forcing his opponent into a forehand error. Murray broke again in the following game, Dodig putting a forehand wide, and the Scot served out for the set.
Both men played on all three days of this tie, but in the third set it was Murray who looked the stronger. The world No. 3 again made an early breakthrough, Dodig dropping serve in the opening game when he put a backhand in the net after being outrallied.
Dodig, straining every sinew in his body, saved two match points when he served at 3-5, forcing Murray to serve out for victory. In the following game the Croatian was furious when his cross-court forehand was called out, giving Murray his third match point. His protests to Renaud Lichtenstein, the umpire, were in vain and Murray completed victory on the next point as Dodig put a backhand long.
The whole British team rushed on court to share Murray’s joy over a victory that takes them back into the World Group for the first time since 2008. It is 27 years since Britain last won a match in the World Group, but with Murray in their team and with a good choice of top-class doubles players at their disposal, they will surely fancy their chances of making an impact next year. Croatia, meanwhile, will be hoping to bounce back in similar fashion to 2008, when they spent their only year since 2001 outside the World Group.
Live streaming is available for the draw at 10am GMT on DavisCup.com.
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Captain Leon Smith (GBR) - 15/09/2013
Andy Murray (GBR) - 15/09/2013