GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — Andy Murray has won some of the biggest titles in tennis with grand-slam victories at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, and a gold medal at his home Olympic Games.
Unlikely as it seems, more success could be around the corner in the Davis Cup for Britain’s top player.
Murray jumped up and down with his jubilant teammates in a celebration huddle after beating John Isner 7-6 (4), 6-3, 7-6 (4) on Sunday to clinch Britain’s first-round victory over the United States. It was the second straight year that Britain has ousted the Americans at this stage in the World Group.
A home quarterfinal match against France on July 17-19 is next for the British, who finally — after decades of disappointment — have a Davis Cup team to be reckoned with. Murray is leading the way and, judging by the passion of the crowd in Glasgow this week, the British public is starting to believe, too.
“We are playing at our level, at our limits right now,” said Murray, who beat Donald Young in four sets on Friday. “Hopefully we can do that right through to the end of the year.”
Britain won the last of its nine Davis Cup titles in 1936, and hasn’t reached the semifinals since 1981.
U.S. captain Jim Courier said Britain deserved to be among the favorites.
“When you have a great player and champion like Andy, against most teams they are up 2-0 going in,” Courier said. “We have seen Boris Becker take a Germany team to a championship when he was the best singles player by a pretty wide margin.
“When you have Andy Murray, you have a chance.”
Britain won the match 3-2. Young beat James Ward in Sunday’s second reverse singles after the Briton retired with a sore knee when leading 7-5 0-1. Ward is playing in Indian Wells next week.
The Americans were up against it after the 20th-ranked Isner lost to Ward — ranked No. 111 — on Friday in a five-set match that lasted five hours.
Bob and Mike Bryan kept the U.S. team alive with a five-set win over Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot in the doubles on Saturday but it was asking a lot for Isner — mentally and physically shaken from what he called a “brutal” loss to Ward — to rebound against Murray.
The big-serving Isner began superbly but couldn’t convert any of his seven break-point chances in the first set. Three of those were set points.
Isner double-faulted to start the tiebreaker, the only point that went against serve. Murray, playing in the city of his birth, broke once in the second set and sealed the victory with an ace on his second match point.
Murray gave Britain captain Leon Smith a long embrace and then high-fived and hugged his teammates. He then walked back onto the court, looked up and let out a huge roar in front of the 7,700-capacity crowd.
Playing in his native Scotland for the first time since winning Wimbledon in 2013, Murray has been an animated figure the whole week, roaring on his teammates from the sidelines. He was almost in tears after Ward’s win.
“It was one of the most special atmospheres I have ever played in,” Murray said, addressing the crowd on court.
A dejected Isner blamed himself for the Americans’ loss.
“This one’s on me,” Isner said. “My loss on Friday put us in a huge hole. And playing Andy in this atmosphere, there’s not many people who can beat him.”
Like in 2014, the U.S. team is relegated to the World Group playoffs and will need to win in September to stay in the top tier.
Britain’s path to victory followed the same course as last year in San Diego — two wins in the opening-day singles, a defeat in the doubles, and a win for Murray in the first reverse singles.
Italy stopped Britain’s progress with a win in Naples in last year’s quarterfinals. Britain is at home this time — at a venue yet to be decided — a week after Wimbledon.
“It’s nice to dream,” Smith said when asked if Britain can win the Davis Cup. “We still have a lot of work to do, but we are getting closer.”
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