LONDON (AP) — Andy Murray leveled Britain’s Davis Cup quarterfinal against France at 1-1 Friday by beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets at Queen’s Club.
Britain’s top-ranked player beat Tsonga 7-5, 7-6 (10), 6-2 after compatriot James Ward was outplayed by Gilles Simon earlier in the day.
The 11th-ranked Simon eased to a 6-4, 6-4, 6-1 victory in 1 hour, 47 minutes over the 89th-ranked Londoner.
France, last year’s runner-up, is in the quarterfinals for the 14th time in 15 years. Britain has spent most of that time in the Euro-Africa zone and is seeking a semifinal spot for the first time since 1981.
Murray’s opening singles game was far from simple, particularly during a lengthy second-set tiebreaker, but coming through in straight sets may well persuade the world No. 3 to sacrifice his day’s rest and play in the doubles on Saturday.
Dominic Inglot is provisionally scheduled to partner Andy’s brother Jamie but the pairing can be changed up to an hour before the start of play and the middle rubber appears increasingly decisive to Britain’s chances of success.
“I always want to play,” Andy Murray said after Friday’s win. “It’s about doing what’s best for us to win the tie. I need to be fresh for Sunday as well so we’ll chat about it and see. Hopefully I can play.”
Murray said in the build-up to the match that he was still thinking over his Wimbledon semifinal loss to Roger Federer but the Briton showed few signs of fatigue as he whipped up the home crowd and produced a clinical display against Tsonga.
It was not until the 10th game of the first set that the first chance to break arrived as Tsonga saved a set point and things became more challenging for the Frenchman as he bizarrely air-shot a first serve to concede a fault and then took exception to his second serve being jeered by a British fan.
Murray was handed another two set points in Tsonga’s next service game and this time he capitalized, chipping a superb return into his opponent’s feet before bounding toward his team.
Murray’s enthusiasm perhaps blurred his focus because Tsonga claimed a break in the opening game of the second set. Tsonga’s advantage was short-lived, however, as a slip and then a double fault helped Murray break back and the set would be decided in a pulsating tiebreaker.
Tsonga raced into a 3-0 lead but Murray clawed his way back and, after saving three set points and missing two of his own, the Scot finally converted when Tsonga’s forehand flew long.
The squandered chances seemed to affect Tsonga, who took medical treatment to his shoulder at the changeover and struggled to extend Murray in the same way from that point.
Another double fault gifted Murray a break in the opening game of the third set before a backhand return secured the double-break and a 4-1 lead.
There was still time for a final flourish as Murray whipped a stunning forehand pass at 5-2 before Tsonga returned into the net, sealing Murray’s victory in 2 hours, 34 minutes.
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