A new and supposedly improved version of the Davis Cup will be up and running from 2019 but the good News, so far as both Jamie Murray and Great Britain are concerned, is that doubles will remain at the heart of it. No sooner had the Scot and Dom Inglot recovered from a nervy start to clinch a 4-6, 7-6 (8), 6-2, 6-3 victory against Denis Istomin and Sanjar Fayziev which handed Leon Smith’s side a 2-1 final day advantage in this World Group play-off tie against Uzbekistan than an ITF representative was confirming further details of the reformed competition which will be drawn next week.
While this was the last stand-alone Saturday set aside for a five-set doubles rubber, the ITF have listened to the pleas of the LTA and decreed that doubles rubbers would still be played third and not fifth in the five three-set contests which are envisaged for these two-day ties going forward, keeping them pivotal to the outcome rather than making them an afterthought. With a former World No 1 and seven players ranked in the top 100, this is good news for Britain. “When we had some consultation with the ITF our feedback was very strong that the doubles should remain an important part of it and hopefully that has been listened to,” said Smith. “While it was amazing drama on Friday with two five-setters there wasn’t many people left at the end. It’s difficult to bring family, children, to come and watch seven and a half hours of sport. This is why doubles Saturday, for me, has always been so amazing, athough Jamie says that’s because he’s been playing!”
Jamie, crowned a Grand Slam champion for the sixth time this time last week in the US Open mixed doubles with Bethanie Mattek-Sands, took issue with his younger brother Andy by asserting that he might not have played his last Glasgow Davis Cup tie. “It’s not like the Davis Cup isn’t happening again, it’s just changing format,” he said. “There are still going to be home and away ties every February so we could be back here in a few months! What we have learned is ‘don’t listen to Andy’.”
But whatever else this weekend has been, it has certainly a great advertisement for the format dreamed up by Dwight Davis and his chums back in 1900. At around 8.10pm on Friday night, when Cam Norrie had match point against young Jurabek Karimov, Jamie must have imagined he and Dom Inglot would have it in their power today to clinch this World Group play-off tie against Uzbekistan outright. By the time Saturday’s football kicked-off, here he was, a set down and striving desperately to prevent the Uzbeks racking up a potentially-decisive 2-1 advantage. Our visitors from Central Asia even had a point to rack up a two-set lead.
His younger brother might not have been there with him for company yesterday as he continues his rehab over in Philadelphia – the two Murray brothers have proudly never lost a Davis Cup rubber together – but at least the part of the clan competing in the city of his birth this weekend delivered his part of the bargain. His class eventually shone through even if we are still no closer to knowing who will ultimately prevail in this tie. Sunday’s reverse singles see both team’s No 1 players, Norrie and Denis Istomin, playing off after demoralising opening day victories, while both team’s No 2 players, Dan Evans and Karimov, hope to follow Friday’s surprise triumphs up with a second win. It will be a dramatic conclusion alright – even if both of these two teams should find themselves in February’s first round.
If this was another big win for Jamie – “I wasn’t emotional about it, we had a job to do, to go out and win a point for the team,” he said – it was an even bigger one for his partner Dom Inglot, his first on home soil, and his first in the company of Murray since Canada in early 2017. But with Denis Istomin rattling in a couple of sublime returns in an early Murray service break, it was clear early on that this would have to be done the hard way too. After a tentative start, Inglot raised his level towards the end of the second set, the turning point being the way the British pair held their nerve to nick the tie-break 10-8. They saw this one out with a degree of comfort. But under the fiendish original format of the Davis Cup, what happens next is still anybody’s guess.
Source : HeraldScotland