Andy Murray took nearly five hours to get the job done for Davis Cup holders Great Britain as he sealed a 3-1 win over Japan to set up a World Group quarterfinal tie with Novak Djokovic and Serbia in July.
Murray, the hero of last year’s surprise triumph, spent four hours, 54 minutes in holding off Asia’s top player and 2014 US Open finalist Kei Nishikori 7-5 7-6(6) 3-6 4-6 6-3.
The win was the joint-longest of his career alongside the 2012 US Open final against Djokovic and by winning his 14th consecutive Davis match (singles and doubles), Murray broke a British mark dating back well over half a century set by Fred Perry.
Once again, Murray carried the weight for his country by winning three rubbers.
“I was trying to keep the points short in the third and fourth sets, but it didn’t work and in the fifth set I managed to grit my teeth and get it done,” Murray said.
“Thankfully I managed to get through. I was a little bit calmer in the first set. I had been getting very frustrated at the end of the third set but in the fifth I went back to what I was doing at the start, to get myself pumped up with positive energy.
“Last year’s experience was incredible for everyone on the team. We did something special last year and I would like to try do something similar this year.”
Viktor Troicki swept past Aleksandr Nedovyesov 6-2 6-3 6-4 as Serbia edged past Kazakhstan 3-2 after Djokovic had rallied to beat Mikhail Kukushkin 6-7(6) 7-6(3) 4-6 6-3 6-2 to level the match at 2-2.
“I was nervous,” Troicki said. “Thank you Novak for the amazing victory.”
World No.1 Djokovic, recovering from an eye infection but also struggling with apparent thigh problems, fought back against Kukushkin in a match that was three minutes shy of five hours.
“This is probably the most psychologically and physically difficult match in my career,” Djokovic said. “Kukushkin played so well that he probably deserved to win.”
The Czech Republic scraped past Germany 3-2, winning despite a hamstring injury which forced Tomas Berdych to quit his singles match against Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Lukas Rosol came on to beat teenage German rookie Alexander Zverev 6-2 6-3 6-1 and clinch victory.
The Czechs will host France, who produced a 5-0 sweep against Canada on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet winning the last two points.
In Pesaro, Italy hammered Switzerland 5-0 and next play at home against Argentina, 3-2 winners over Poland.
Teenager Borna Coric defeated Kimmer Coppejans of Belgium in straight sets, 7-6(5) 6-2 6-2 in the decisive singles match to book a spot for Croatia in the quarterfinals where they will meet the United States, who defeated Australia in Melbourne.
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