The tie between the defending champs and the Japanese in Birmingham was expected to be of the highest quality and it sure lived up to it. The British were powered by Andy Murray and Kei Nishikore led the men from the land of the rising sun.
The tie was eventually won in the fourth match with Andy Murray defeating Kei Nishikore in the 4th rubber in a thrilling 5 setter. Here we look at the way this important tie played out and it’s implications for the future.
1 . Murray def Taro Daniel (6-1 6-3 6-1)
Andy Murray took on World no.87 Taro Daniel in the first clash .It was Murray’s first match after losing to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open finale, as he took February off for the birth of his first child. Murray started the match raking in 11 consecutive points. He took the first set comfortably 6-1.The second set was much more competitive, reaching 3-3 before Daniel got broken by committing a double fault.
Murray himself admitted that the second set was a tough one with lot of close points. Though Murray was not at his best – he committed 25 unforced errors – he cruised through the match notching up another win to make it a total 28 Davis cup singles matches.
Dan Evans, though ranked 157 in the world, came into the match having won his only previous encounter with the World no.6 Kei Nishikori. This matchup turned out to be much closer than most people expected as Dan played out of his skin against the Japanese Warrior. He was let down by his terrible break point conversion rate of 4 out of 13. The third set had 6 service breaks and Evans failed to capitalize on leads of 3-2 and 4-3 to seal the third which ended with a victory for Nishikori in a tie breaker
3 . Murray brothers’ def Nishioka/Uchiyama (6-2 6-3 6-4)
The Japanese duo took on the much fancied Murray brothers in this all important doubles match-up .The main challenge for the Japanese was to keep Andy Murray on court for as long as possible and they had little success in doing that. They played with all their might but the 5′ 7” Nishioka’s serve was consistently put under pressure by arguably the best returner in the game , Andy Murray. Jamie Murray , who won the Australian Open with Bruno Soares, was solid at the net as the Murrays sealed a 2-1 lead for the hosts
This match will probably end up being one of the top matches of 2016. The first two sets were really close and Murray banked on the crowds support to rally to a two sets lead. But in the third set the match-up really started to turn around.The British Davis Cup captain’s decision to play Murray in the doubles match the previous day came into question as he looked a bit weary and tired, and lost the next two sets 6-3 6-4. Nishikori was hoping to defeat Murray from two sets down, a feat only achieved by David Nalbandian. In the third set Nishikori broke in the first game to take a 1-0 lead but Murray bounced back and broke Nishikori twice in a row to win the match 6-3 and take Britain into the quarters where they face Serbia.