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Davis Cup: Andy Murray and brother Jamie give GB lead against Australia

For Andy and Jamie Murray, who have put Great Britain in sight of a Davis Cup final for the first time in 37 years, winning a tennis match has never been as important as the love and comfort of a family which has fractured and moved on since they grew up 30 miles from here in Dunblane.

Andy, younger by a year but more decorated and feted – often to the consternation of their mother, Judy – made the point shortly after they had beaten Lleyton Hewitt and Sam Groth 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (6-8), 6-4 in just under four hours in front of 8,000 of their compatriots for a 2-1 lead in the semi-final.

The world No 3 bridled when asked, along with Jamie, if they ever thought about the obvious anxiety their mother showed for them during a match, and it was a thoughtful response that lent context and substance to not only their achievement but the journey they have taken since Judy and their father, Willie, divorced before their teenage years.

“Our whole family was there,” he said. “Our dad was there as well. It’s not just our mum who goes through this a lot of the time, it’s our whole family. They always stick by us, they’re always there to support us. They obviously desperately want us to win but the nicest thing about family is it doesn’t affect how they view you whether you win or lose a tennis match.

“They still view you exactly the same way. They care about you as people first. It’s not just winning and losing tennis matches.

“Yes, it is difficult to watch but it’s also nice having a close and supportive family behind you because, when you lose matches like that, or tough ones in a slam final, whatever, they’re always there supporting us.”

Jamie added that playing in front of a Scottish crowd so close to where they grew up – and closer to where Andy was born, in a maternity hospital six miles away in Glasgow – was also significant.

“It’s brilliant,” he said. “For us to come back and play in Scotland is always a lot of fun and we both really look forward to it. There was a lot at stake today for the team. Doubles is always such an important match in Davis Cup. We just wanted to get the result that will put is in a good position to win the tie.”

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And that position, inevitably, involves the younger sibling, who rushed for an ice bath and physio to recover from a match in which he briefly seemed near collapse in the first set (although he put that down to the different stresses doubles puts on his body). Now he prepares for either the scheduled opponent in the reverse singles on Sunday, Bernard Tomic – or, if the Australia captain, Wally Masur, considers the Queenslander would be easy pickings after red-lining towards the end of his four-set win over Dan Evans on Friday, Groth or Hewitt.

Masur did not rule out the possibility. “We do have the versatility with four singles players but we will make that decision in the morning,” he said. Groth and Hewitt agreed they each had enough in reserve to back up against Murray.

Hewitt, playing in probably his last Davis Cup for his country at 34 before retiring from the game at the Australian Open in January, added: “We were able to keep Andy out there for a long time, but he’s still favourite [on Sunday].”

For the British team, the Murrays’ win lifted a considerable weight off the shoulders of the captain, Leon Smith, who shared the crowd’s anxiety at several key moments of the match, none more fretful than when Andy Murray failed to serve it out in the fourth set and then when they were unable to convert the first match point in the subsequent tie-break.

But he was predictably thrilled that they could come back from perilous positions time and again in a match where the 20-points overall difference at the end did not reflect the many ups and downs both pairings experienced.

Smith defended his decision to ask Murray to play two singles and the doubles again, as he did in beating France with Jamie’s help in the quarter-finals.

“Andy’s the best players across the two teams and, if he can play, he should play. Not only that, he and Jamie are a great pair. What they did against France was absolutely outstanding, and they did that again today against a team that Wally rightly said yesterday needed to play the match of their lives. And they pretty much did that, yet we’ve still got that very important win.”

Andy Murray observed: “It was an incredible match, to come back from losing that fourth set. They kept in it but we stuck together – like brothers should – and just managed to find enough good returns at the end to come through.”

Less convincing, it has to be said, was his explanation of how his legs appeared on the verge of giving up on him completely towards the end of the first set, his left knee at one point touching the ground as he walked between points.

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“I was OK. I’ve played a lot of tennis so some times it takes a little bit longer to warm up. I started off a little bit slow then managed to get going. The movements in doubles are very different to what I’m used to when playing singles. There’s the formation and a lot of forward movement [they won 50 of 103 plays at the net].”

As for his reverse singles, Murray said: “The longer the match, the less time there is to recover. Physically it was tough but also emotionally matches like that are draining as well.”

Source: https://www.theguardian.com

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