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A Look Back at the 2015 Davis Cup: When Villains Became Heroes

November 15, 2016

- Grant Whittington

Between the 25th and 27th November, Croatia will take on Argentina for the coveted Davis Cup prize. The event, which will be hosted at the Zagreb Arena in Croatia, is likely to be keenly-contested while it will also serve as a reminder of what of might have been for Leon Smith and the Great Britain side.

Back in September, Britain’s heroic defence of the title that it won last year ended in disappointing fashion during the deciding rubber with Argentina. As former top-20 player Leonardo Mayer cruised to a relatively untroubled 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 win over Dan Evans, Smith’s battlers were eliminated and their reign as champions ended brutally.

A Look Back at 2015 and Britain’s Achievement

In truth, the match was lost during the opening rubber, when Britain’s star performer and talisman Andy Murray was wore down by the returning Martin Del Potro in a repeat of the Rio Olympics final. As Del Potro gained revenge for his defeat in Brazil, Britain were left chasing the game and the likelihood that one of Murray’s teammates would have to step-up and deliver a decisive result.

When the dust settled, however, it was hard no to bask in the glory of Great Britain’s achievements over the previous 18 months. After all, Argentina are the Davis Cup favourites this time around, while the the beginning of 2015 had only just seen seen Leon Smith’s side and the incredible Murray narrowly regain their place among the world’s elite.

They were not even among the seeds when the draw was made for last years’ event, and few gave them even the slimmest chance of progressing when they entertained a stellar US side in Glasgow during the first round. Despite this, James Wards’ brutal five set win over John Isner set the scene for a surprise result, which was duly delivered when Murray beat the same player to secure an unassailable, 3-1 lead after four games.

Murray was once again central in the quarter-finals, and it was at this stage that people started to believe that they were contenders for the title. Playing the top-seeded French side in London, Murray starred in both the doubles and single, with his dramatic comeback win over Gilles Simon securing a decisive 3-1 lead in front of a baying crowd. This played a huge factor in getting Britain over the line, and it was the same during another tense home clash with Australia in Glasgow during the semis.

Final Memories and the Role of Murray

This growing tide of belief and emotion took Britain to a final with Belgium in Ghent, but many made them second favourites as the event was played on indoor clay. After edging into a narrow, 2-1 lead, Murray took centre stage once again and delivered a comprehensive, straight-sets win over home favourite David Goffin to deliver GB’s first title in 79 years.

A truly monumental achievement, it is important that we do not lose sight of this or GB’s spirited defence that was only ended by a talented Argentinian side. The last word should also surely go to the brilliant, boundless and talismanic Murray, whose presence, skill and sheer will-to-win was key to turning a valiant campaign into a momentous one.

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