Great Britain have reached their first Davis Cup final since 1978 with a 3-2 victory over Australia in the semi-final. Andy Murray won all three of his ties as he secured an unassailable 3-1 lead, despite Dan Evans’ defeats.
World number three Murray kicked the tie off with a dominant performance over teenager Thanasi Kokkinakis, with the Scot winning 6-3, 6-0, 6-3 in the pair’s first competitive meeting. Murray and Kokkinakis are regular training partners and so know each other’s game very well, but the Aussie was unable to deal with his opponent’s strong hitting, especially some sublime groundstrokes, and was ultimately outclassed by the 28-year-old. The routine victory for Murray set Britain up with a 1-0 lead before Evans took on another young prospect in the shape of Bernard Tomic.
Evans was a surprise call up by captain Leon Smith for the singles with regular James Ward dropped for the tie due to a recent dip in form and Kyle Edmund was also omitted, possibly due to an ankle injury he picked up in the week leading up to the tie, which was held at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow. Tomic, ranked 23rd in the world, started strongly and took the opening set 6-3 before claiming a second set tiebreak to take him within a set of winning. Despite serving for the match at 5-4 in the third, Tomic faltered as he closed in on victory and Evans fought back to take the set to a tiebreak, which the Brit claimed 7-4. However, the 22-year-old Australian, who has bounced back from heavy criticism over the past few months, proved too strong for Evans as he secured victory by taking the fourth set 6-4. This meant that the tie was 1-1 going into Saturday’s doubles and ensuring that the tie would go to a third day.
With Andy Murray still fresh following his routine victory on Friday, Leon Smith decided to partner the Murray brothers, Andy and Jamie, in the doubles rubber ahead of Dom Inglot. The Murrays were magnificent together in the quarter-final win over France and repaid the faith shown in them by Smith as they triumphed over Australian duo Sam Groth and Lleyton Hewitt. The Australians took the opening set 6-4 before the Murray brothers fought back to claim the next two sets 6-3 and 6-4. The fourth set went to a tiebreak and with Britain match point up on Hewitt’s serve, Andy Murrays backhand return was bravely intercepted by Groth, who dispatched the volley expertly. The Aussies then went on to win the tiebreak 8-6, taking the match to a crucial fifth set. Andy and Jamie fought back brilliantly despite the agony of the fourth set tiebreak and claimed the fifth set 6-4, breaking the big Groth serve to win the match. In a brilliant game, after 3 hours 56 minutes, Groth volleyed long on match point to give Great Britain a crucial 2-1 lead going into Sunday’s singles.
In front of 8,000 enthusiastic fans, Andy Murray faced Bernard Tomic in the fourth rubber of the tie, knowing that a win would secure Britain’s passage into the final for the first time in 37 years. In what could potentially be a rather tricky tie for Murray, who had played eight sets over the previous two days, the Brit was phenomenal and professional in a performance worthy of winning the tie. He was simply too good for Tomic, winning 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 as he powered past the lacklustre Tomic.
The victory meant that Britain led 3-1 and therefore we unable to be caught by their Australian opponents and, despite Evans’ loss to Kokkinakis in the dead fifth rubber, it was Britain who were celebrating as they took one step closer to winning their first Davis Cup title since 1936, inspired by a certain Fred Perry, where they will face Belgium away, following their 3-2 victory over Argentina.