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Murray puts Britain ahead; Djokovic shrugs off shoulder problem to give Serbia lead
March 05, 2016
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Birmingham: Andy Murray got Great Britain’s Davis Cup defence off to the best possible start with a straight sets win over Japan’s Taro Daniel in Birmingham on Friday.

The world number two put the titleholders 1-0 up in the World Group first round tie with a comfortable 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 defeat of Daniel, his 87th-ranked opponent in one and a half hours.

Daniel, ranked 87th in the world, briefly knocked Murray out of his stride to break early in the second set but he was no match for the man who led Britain to a first title since 1936 virtually single-handed last November.

The second singles match is between Japan’s world number six Kei Nishikori and Dan Evans, who was only selected to play after Kyle Edmund failed to overcome a back injury.

This was the Scot’s first match since losing to Novak Djokovic in last month’s Australian Open final, opting instead to spend time with new daughter Sophia, born on Feb.7, and wife Kim Sears.

“The last few weeks have been the best of my life, it’s been really, really special,” he told the BBC.

“It’s been tough the last few days being away from her (new daughter Sophia) for the first time. It had to happen at some time. It’s a pleasure to come and represent my country though.”

He added: “The second set was tough, lot of close games.... I was getting a little out of breath but I played a good match, served well, missed a few second serves but the first serve went extremely well so it was a nice start.”

Murray inspired Britain to their first Davis triumph in 79 years with victory over Belgium in Ghent in November.

Serbia gain upper hand

World number one Novak Djokovic shrugged off a shoulder problem to secure Serbia a 1-0 lead over Kazakhstan in in Belgrade by easily defeating Aleksandr Nedovyesov.

Djokovic, who was playing for the first time in front of his home fans since the Davis Cup against Croatia in March last year, defeated world number 200 Nedovyesov 6-1, 6-2, 6-3.

The 28-year-old appeared recovered from an eye infection which forced him to retire from his Dubai ATP quarter-final last week ending his streak of 17 successive finals.

On Friday, Djokovic suffered from some minor problems with his left shoulder at the end of the first set and the beginning of the second.

He had to seek help from the trainer, but the shoulder problems did not prevent him from securing an easy win over his Kazakh opponent. Serbia won the Davis Cup in 2010, led by Djokovic.

Meanwhile, Australia’s Bernard Tomic fought off a challenge from American Jack Sock to level tie 1-1 after the opening singles matches in Melbourne. Tomic looked to be heading for a comfortable victory, rolling through the opening two sets, before being forced to battle hard to win 7-6 (7/2), 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in two hours 24 minutes on the grass surface of Kooyong.

The victory, in sweltering temperatures, was crucial for Lleyton Hewitt’s Australians, who lost the opening singles rubber when Sam Groth went down to big-hitting world number 11 John Isner 7-6 (7/2), 6-2, 6-2.


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