Andy Murray def. Tallon Griekspoor 6-7(7), 6-4, 7-6(5)
Murray: “Physically I told you I wasn’t feeling in the best shape and it showed a little bit in the match”
MADRID, SPAIN – Andy Murray was pushed to the limit to get the first win for Great Britain as they started their Davis Cup Finals campaign.
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Andy Murray def. Tallon Griekspoor 6-7(7), 6-4, 7-6(5)
Andy Murray was making his return to the Davis Cup for the first time since the 2016 semi-finals, where Britain fell to Argentina. Coming into this rubber, Murray had lost just three Davis Cup singles matches (Stan Wawrinka (SUI) in 2005, Fabio Fognini (ITA) 2014, and Juan Martin Del Porto (ARG) 2016).
In a make-up not that dissimilar to the British, with a range of players to cover the singles, the Dutch did a switcheroo having played their third-ranked singles player Botic Van de Zandschulp in their opener against Kazakhstan, handily beaten for the gain of just four games.
With the team declaration made at 10am, there was scant time for the team to prepare for Tallon Griekspoor, who sounded like he had walked in off a Game of Thrones call sheet. He played with the heart of a dragon too, staying toe-to-toe with the former World No. 1. The only break point chance in the first set fell to Murray but could not make it count.
There was little to split them during the tie-break either with Murray saving a set point, and Griekspoor saving the corresponding set point for Murray. It came to a single mini-break to hand the Dutchman the first set.
It was a better start for Murray with an immediate break at the start of the second set, before coming out on top of a mid-set trade of breaks. It was enough of advantage to give Murray a little bit of breathing space to level the match.
Murray found himself once more in the back foot, falling 1-4 behind in the decider. However, slowly but surely, he started to pull himself back, breaking to put things back on serve as a tie-break would decide the match. Again, Murray looked to be a goner, going down an early mini-break before drawing level at 4-4 before breaking for the win on his first match-point.
Looking physically spent, Murray admitted in his on-court interview he thought he hadn’t deserved to win the match, and after his match he told reporters:
“It’s not like we hadn’t looked into his matches and stuff. It was just in terms of watching him play. You can obviously look at stats and stuff, but I think actually watching a player’s technique and how they prepare for shots and things gives you a better idea. And I did watch a little bit before the match.
“But it just wasn’t loads because obviously found out at 10:00 it was changing. I had watched a bit of [Botic] van de Zandschulp playing in the last week or so. And Griekspoor had also been injured. You know, we did discuss last night that they might make the change because I didn’t see loads of the match yesterday against Kukushkin, but I heard van de Zandschulp didn’t play so well.
“With the early start and stuff and only finding out at 10:00, there’s just not loads of time in the morning to look at lots of stuff. And, you know, that’s what’s different to what we usually have on tour. I’m sure we’ll maybe do a little bit better with that as the tournament progresses.”
The most important question though is how he will pull up fitness wise as Kazakhstan is a far tougher prospect to face on Thursday. Leon Smith does have options with Kyle Edmund in the middle to be subbed in.
Murray said: “It probably depends a little bit on how things go, really, today. I think the good thing about us playing on Wednesday-Thursday is that we should have a good idea exactly what it is we need to do to go through, or close to. We’ll have a fair idea.
“It was a tough match. And physically, I mean, I told you guys I wasn’t feeling in the best shape coming in, and it showed a little bit in the match.”
With only one team to guarantee qualification as the leaders of the group, there are some tough decisions to be made.
Murray continued: “I would imagine we’d have a conversation tonight with Leon as a team and then potentially make a final call on it in the morning. But I’m not the captain, it’s not my choice or decision when or how Leon decides to go about discussing that with the team. He might already know right now what it is that he wants to do. And you know, we’ll wait to hear.
“Like I said, it can also be influenced a little bit by what happens in the rest of the matches today as well.”
GB plays Kazakhstan on Thursday, with matches starting at 11am (10am GMT).
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