BRITAIN won the Davis Cup for the first time in 79 years in Ghent yesterday when Andy Murray defeated David Goffin 6-3 7-5 6-3 in the first of the reverse singles to take an unbeatable 3-1 lead over Belgium.
It was a fitting climax for the 28-year-old Scot to provide the winning point, having won all 11 rubbers he played in during the campaign as the British defeated heavyweights United States, France and Australia.
The win over Goffin made him just the third player, after John McEnroe and Mats Wilander, to win all eight singles in the same calendar year since the Davis Cup World Group started in 1981.
It underpinned Murray’s place in tennis history following wins in the 2012 US Open and Olympics, and at Wimbledon the following year.
“I never thought we would have the opportunity to do this and I can’t believe we have done it. Everyone who has played has played an unbelievably high level,” Murray said courtside immediately after his triumph.
“We have to enjoy this because we may never get the opportunity again.
“The Australian Open is next. I have lost in the final four times. I need to learn a few things about how I have handled this weekend. I will try to do that in Australia.”
The match-up of the two national No 1s came after both won their opening singles on Friday and Murray had teamed up with brother Jamie the following day to defeat Goffin and Steve Darcis in the doubles.
It was do or die for Goffin and Belgium against the world No 2 who had yet to drop a single set against the 16th ranked Belgian in previous games.
But it was a tense and edgy start from both players in front of a raucous crowd of 13 000 at the Flanders Expo centre where a clay court had been laid down in an effort to blunt Murray’s firepower.
It was the world No 2, though, who landed the first blow, breaking the Goffin serve to love in the sixth game which proved enough for him to take the set 6-3 in 48 minutes on his fourth set point.
The second set turned out to be the key to the final. Murray held serve with ease, while Goffin hung on grimly.
The Belgian somehow moved out into a 5-4 lead and with the decibel level rising again as the crowd scented blood, Murray needed to serve to stay in the set.
He did that with some ease and then in the next game, got the break he needed as Goffin netted a forehand drive.
Goffin had only once in his career come back to win after losing the first two sets of a match and that was in Friday’s opening rubber against South African Kyle Edmund.
But against a player of Murray’s calibre and fitness it was a huge ask.
At the end, Murray captured the Goffin serve, finishing the final with a lob with Goffin stranded at the net.