SAN DIEGO – Less than five months after having back surgery, Wimbledon champion Andy Murray propelled Britain into the next round of the Davis Cup and earned some time off.
Murray beat Sam Querrey 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (3-7), 6-1, 6-3 to clinch Britain’s opening-round victory against the United States on Sunday at Petco Park.
“I’m proud of the way I’m playing just now, because I had to do a lot of work to get back to where I want to be,” Murray said after celebrating with his teammates on the red clay court in a temporary stadium in left field of the downtown home of baseball’s San Diego Padres.
“I’m still not quite there yet,” said Murray, who beat Donald Young in straight sets on Friday. “Winning matches of that length and quality so soon after the surgery is good. And changing surfaces and stuff. I’ve done 13 weeks consecutively without a break of training and playing tournaments to try and get myself back. I need a break now to take some days off after I get back home. I deserve it.”
Murray won his 18th straight Davis Cup singles match and Britain beat the Americans for the first time since 1935.
Britain advanced to the World Group quarterfinals for the first time since 1986. It will face Italy, which defeated Argentina. The U.S. is relegated to the World Group playoff in September and will need to win to stay in the World Group.
The last time Great Britain won in the U.S. was in 1903 in the World Group Challenge Final at the Longwood Cricket Club in Boston.
American captain Jim Courier was asked to put that in perspective.
“It feels great to be alive in 2014,” Courier said. “We certainly don’t feel a lot of kinship to the last team that lost to the Brits on American soil since they’ve been dead a long time. It has nothing to do with us. We come to play on our own terms.”
Murray split tiebreakers with Querrey in the first two sets, breezed through the third set in 29 minutes and won the match when Querrey returned a serve long.
Murray leaned back and pumped both fists, and then swatted the ball into the stands on the opposite end of the court before joining his teammates in a celebration huddle. Later, he had a hot bath, an ice bath and other treatment on his back.
Britain clinched the match at 3-1. The fourth singles match was canceled.
Murray reached matched point on Querrey’s serve in the eighth game of the fourth set before the American won three straight points to stay alive.
After falling behind 15-30 in the ninth game, Murray got a new racket. He then double-faulted, giving Querrey break point. Murray won the next three points to clinch the match.
In the first-set tiebreaker, Murray was down a mini-break before rallying to win when Querrey hit a drop volley into the net.
“I tried to do a little too much with it,” Querrey said “Every now and then you miss an easy one. It happened to be at a big moment.”
Querrey won the second-set tiebreaker on a forehand passing shot and then jumped for joy.
Murray immediately rebounded by breaking Querrey twice to go up 4-0 in the third set. He broke Querrey again to win the set in a seventh game that went to deuce four times, clinching it when Querrey hit into the net.
Murray said it was important to win the first set “because I felt like I was playing the better tennis for the most part of it. Then he started playing better at the end of the set. He probably played a better tiebreak than me as well. Just missed a couple of shots, like the volley on set point was a bad one, but he got himself into a great position.
“If I had lost that it would’ve been tough after having served for it. Yeah, in these sorts of matches, first set can be crucial.”
Although Murray struggled on clay last year, he said he was surprised the Americans chose that surface for this match. He said the clay might have affected Querrey in his five-set loss to James Ward on Friday.