Andy Murray wins in his return to the Davis Cup
MADRID — Andy Murray had been in a similar position before, struggling and needing a big comeback to pull off an important victory.
And like he’s done so many times in his career, he again came through with a big rally, this time to give Britain a point in his return to the Davis Cup.
Murray defeated Tallon Griekspoor 6-7 (7), 6-4, 7-6 (5) on Wednesday after trailing 4-1 in the third set and 4-1 in the decisive tiebreaker, giving his team a 1-0 lead over the Netherlands in Group E of the new Davis Cup Finals.
“I’ve found a way to win matches many times in my career when I’ve not been playing well,” Murray said. “You can draw on that a little bit. I came up with some really good defensive shots at the end of the tiebreak and found a way to win.”
Murray had not played in the Davis Cup since 2016, when Britain lost to Argentina in the semifinals. In October, the three-time Grand Slam champion won his first title since undergoing hip surgery in January.
“I wasn’t feeling in the best shape coming in, and it showed a little bit in the match,” Murray said. “It is about finding a way to win, and I did that today. And I’m proud of myself because it would have been easy to have lost that.”
Murray said he wasn’t fully prepared to face Griekspoor after a late change by the Dutch team.
“That was our bad,” Murray said. “I didn’t watch a whole lot of him play before the match … I’m sure we’ll maybe do a little bit better with that as the tournament progresses.”
The Dutch evened the score to 1-1 when Robin Haase beat Daniel Evans 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 in the second singles match.
In the revamped Davis Cup format, teams play two singles and a doubles match, with the group winners advancing to the knockout stage along with the two best second-place finishers in the six groups.
The Netherlands lost to Kazakhstan 2-1 on Tuesday.
While Murray struggled to beat the 179th-ranked Griekspoor, Novak Djokovic cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 win over 73rd-ranked Yoshihito Nishioka, giving Serbia a 2-0 victory over Japan in Group A.
It was the 13th straight Davis Cup singles victory for Djokovic, who broke Nishioka’s serve three times in the first set and twice in the second at the Caja Mágica.
Filip Krajinovic had defeated Yuichi Sugita 6-2, 6-4 in the first match.
The winner of Thursday’s series between Serbia and top-ranked France will guarantee a spot in the quarterfinals.
“It’s probably one of the biggest challenges that we can have in this competition,” said Djokovic, who hadn’t played in the Davis Cup since 2017. “Playing against France, one of the most successful nations in Davis Cup, and definitely one of the strongest teams.”
Japan, which lost to France 2-1 on Tuesday, has no chance of advancing.
Argentina routed Chile 3-0 on Tuesday but lost to Germany 2-0 on Wednesday after Philipp Kohlschreiber beat Guido Pella 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 and Jan-Lennard Struff defeated Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 7-6 (8).
Germany can secure first place in the group if it beats Chile on Thursday. Argentina can still advance as a second-place finisher.
The new Davis Cup Finals is being played in World Cup-style with all 18 teams playing in a single venue in the same week. The tournament overhaul is the result of a 25-year partnership between the International Tennis Federation and Kosmos, a group co-founded by Barcelona soccer player Gerard Piqué.