GHENT: Britain won the Davis Cup for the first time in 79 years in Ghent yesterday when Andy Murray defeated David Goffin 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 in the first of the reverse singles to take an unbeatable 3-1 lead over Belgium. It was a fitting climax for the 28-year-old Scot to provide the winning point, having won all 11 rubbers he played in during the campaign as the British defeated heavyweights United States, France and Australia before the clincher against Belgium.
The win over Goffin made him just the third player, after John McEnroe and Mats Wilander, to win all eight singles in the same calendar year since the Davis Cup World Group started in 1981. And it underpinned Murray’s place in tennis history following his headline-making wins in the 2012 US Open and Olympics, and at Wimbledon the following year. He is only the third player to win Wimbledon, Olympic singles gold and the Davis Cup in the Open era after Rafael Nadal and Andre Agassi “I never thought we would have the opportunity to do this and I can’t believe we have done it. Everyone who has played has played an unbelievably high level,” Murray said courtside immediately after his triumph. “We have to enjoy this because we may never get the opportunity again. “The Australian Open is next. I have lost in the final four times. I need to learn a few things about how I have handled this weekend. I will try to do that in Australia. “I will enjoy this one.” Murray’s mother and mentor early in his career, Judy, who saw her two sons supply all three British points in Ghent, tweeted: “mission accomplished”.
“It is amazing, as good a feeling as I could imagine,” said British team captain Leon Smith, who has overseen his country’s revival from the depths of the Davis Cup third tier to cup glory in the space of five years. “Andy has shown himself to be an absolute superstar. He will be the first to say it is a team thing, but what he has done is astonishing. I am proud of everyone.” The match-up of the two national number ones came after both had won their opening singles on Friday and Murray had teamed up with brother Jamie the following day to defeat Goffin and Steve Darcis in the doubles.It was do or die for Goffin and Belgium against the world number two who had yet to drop a single set against the 16th ranked Belgian in previous games. But it was a tense and edgy start from both players in front of a raucous 13,000 capacity crowd at the Flanders Expo centre where a claycourt had been laid down in an effort to blunt Murray’s firepower. It was the world number two, though, who landed the first blow, breaking the Goffin serve to love in the sixth game and that proved enough for him to take the set 6-3 in 48 minutes on his fourth set point. The second set turned out to be the key to the final. Murray held serve with ease, while Goffin hung on grimly.
The Belgian somehow moved out into a 5-4 lead and with the decibel level rising again as the crowd scented blood, Murray needed to serve to stay in the set. But he did that with some ease and then in the next game, the Scot stepped up the pressure once again and got the break he needed as Goffin netted a forehand drive. Goffin had only once in his career come back to win after losing the first two sets of a match and that was in Friday’s opening rubber against Kyle Edmund. But against a player of Murray’s calibre and fitness it was a huge ask. Goffin, though, had not given up the cause and he raised home hopes with his first break of serve in the second game of the second set. But the revival was short-lived as Murray broke back immediately and three games later the Scot supplied the ‘coup de grace’ with a break to love to lead 4-3. He only had to serve out twice to end the long wait for Britain but he only needed to do that once as again he captured the Goffin serve, finishing the final with a superb lob with Goffin stranded at the net. Murray was immediately engulfed by his teammates off the British bench as the celebrations began. — AFP