Andy and Jamie Murray looked dominant throughout as they outclassed the inexperienced Japanese pairing of Yoshihito Nishioka and Yasutaka Uchiyama in straight sets 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. This leaves the defending champions just one win away from a place in the Davis Cup World Group quarterfinals.
Heading into Saturday’s crucial doubles rubber, the first round tie was finely poised at 1-1. Andy Murray had given Great Britain the lead with a victory over Taro Daniel, before Kei Nishikori, a noticeable absentee from this doubles tie, defeated Dan Evans in straight sets to get Japan on the board.
Murray Brothers Make A Good Start
The Japanese pairing led 40-0 on serve at 1-2, but the Brits responded to take the next three points. Jamie Murray missed the return at deuce to let the opportunity slip by, with the servers going on to hold for two games all. Jamie Murray was tested on serve in the seventh game, as the Brits were pushed to deuce. Two missed returns from the Japanese allowed their opponents to escape with the hold. Getting out of that game proved to be crucial in deciding the fate of the first set. The Murray brothers struck in the following game to secure the break. Andy Murray proceeded to serve out the set at 6-3.
Strong Second Set For The Scots
The Murrays’ momentum continued with the Brits earning the immediate break in the second set, after Andy Murray’s return of serve found the baseline. An opportunity for a double break arose at 4-2 after Jamie Murray forced the Japanese pair to go for the lob, which they put long. Andy Murray could only find the net on his attempted drop volley, missing out on the chance. He would miss again on another opportunity, after netting a second serve return.
The inexperienced Japanese doubles pair struggled to live with the consistency of the world number two singles player (Andy) and the world number two doubles player (Jamie) again in this set. An attempted overhead smash from Nishioka went wide, securing a double break for the Brits on their third opportunity. There were flashes of brilliance as the Japanese went for aggressive service returns, but it was all in vain as Great Britain took a two sets to love lead.
Far Closer In The Third Set
Nishioka and Uchiyama did very well to hold at the start of the third set, under pressure after 40-0 became 40-30. The Japanese held firm to get ahead in a set for the first time. Out of nowhere, a strong opening point and a missed overhead from Jamie Murray gave Japan a window of opportunity at 0-30 in the fourth game of the set. The Brits responded as expected to the delight of the home crowd, winning four points in a row to hold.
The Japanese pair got over the disappointment of the missed chance in the last game in style, holding serve to love to regain the lead at 3-2. All credit to the underdogs for hanging in there and making a match of it in the third set. It looked likely they were going to take a 5-4 lead at 40-15. but the best players in the world often raise their level at the crucial moments and that was the case here. The Murray brothers won four points in a row to break serve.
Andy Murray served out the match with relative ease to secure the doubles rubber for Great Britain, winning in straight sets 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in one hour and 53 minutes. The key for the Murray brothers was their exceptional serving, winning 87 percent of points behind the first serve and 67 percent behind the second. A great day overall for Great Britain as they now lead 2-1 with the reverse singles rubbers coming tomorrow.