ANDY MURRAY pushed his body to the limit and then past it to send the Davis Cup semi-final down to the wire.
Murray defied the mental and physical demands of more than 10 hours of tennis in three days, and then a thigh injury, to beat Argentina’s Guido Pella in straight sets and level the tie at 2-2.
Don’t be fooled by the 6-3 6-2 6-3 scoreline. This was one of Murray’s bravest efforts in a gutsy career.
From the second set onwards he was clearly struggling with general wear and tear. At times in the third, he was in agony as a thigh injury, which required an eight-minute time-out, threatened to hobble him and Britain.
But the British No 1 returned to court, having given everything yet again for the cause and leaving Dan Evans to take on Leonardo Mayer in the fifth and deciding rubber.
In fact, the only error Murray made was in the identity of Evans’ opponent after Juan Martin del Potro was not named for the fifth rubber, with Mayer preferred after Del Potro’s own huge exertions over the first two days.
Murray said: “We were in a lot of trouble a couple of days ago. This is the best we could have hoped for after Friday.
“Now Dan has the chance to go out and try to get the job done.
“Del Potro is a great player. But Dan is difficult to play again, he’s proven that over the last few months.
“He almost beat Wawrinka a few weeks ago. If he plays at that level, he’s got a chance.”
Evans has any sort of chance only because of Murray’s heroics.
The British No 1 was on it from the start, while at the same time clearly trying to play smart in a bid to conserve energy.
A fabulous backhand crosscourt winner earned him the break for a 3-1 lead and after only a very few nervy moments, the British No 1 sealed the first set with an ace after 36 minutes.
Moments later, he had broken Pella’s serve in the first game of the second. It seemed the only thing which would stop Murray winning was his own body, as his groin and left leg seemed to be troubling him.
When the Argentinian saved six break points at 0-2, there was perhaps an opening for the match to change.
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But Murray slammed it shut by taking the Pella serve again for a 4-1 lead and then served it out after double-faulting on his first set point.
Then came the worry. The Brit was unable to take a break chance at the start of the third set and in the third game, he picked up an injury beyond general aches and pains, which he later confirmed was in his thigh.
Murray and physio Shane Annun disappeared for a medical time-out, leaving captain Leon Smith and the rest of the British bench with concern etched across their faces.
One last push was needed. Pella led 40/15 when serving at 2-2 but drove two forehands long, then gave Murray a look at a break point, which he took when the Argentinian went just wide.
But the Scot was in agony, grimacing and hopping from foot to foot in pain after almost every point.
When three double break points came and went, Annun returned to the court but Murray appeared to signal there was nothing to be done.
So he held serve brilliantly to love and had arguably earned the lucky break of a netcord to give him a 0/15 lead in the ninth game.
Pella went wide to bring up a match point and then netted to send this tie into a decider.