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Great Britain vs Kazakhstan Davis Cup Finals tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Murray struggling for form in Madrid

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 20 Nov 2019
  • Great Britain face Kazakhstan in the final round-robin match of Group E at the Davis Cup Finals
  • Great Britain vs Kazakhstan is live from Madrid on Thursday at 11am local/10am GMT
Andy Murray (PA Images)

Can an out-of-form Andy Murray lead Great Britain past Kazakhstan and into the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup Finals?

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After a battle royale vs the Netherlands on Wednesday, Great Britain face an even tougher battle against Kazakhstan on Thursday, with the winning team to progress to the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid.

Projected lineup:

Andy Murray (GBR) vs Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ)
Dan Evans (GBR) vs Alexander Bublik (KAZ)
Jamie Murray/Neal Skupski (GBR) vs Andrey Golubev/Aleksandr Nedovyesov (KAZ)

NB: Match nominations are not finalized until an hour before the tie is scheduled to begin

What might on paper have been considered a fairly straightforward tie against the Netherlands turned into an all-out, lengthy dogfight for Great Britain on Wednesday, which does not bode well for their chances against Kazakhstan.

Andy Murray started the tie against the Netherland’s Tallon Griekspoor, and although Murray did get the point, he struggled to impose Great Britain’s authority on the tie. The 23-year-old Griekspoor, a player who mainly spends his time on the Challenger Tour and lost his last three matches before the Davis Cup Finals to players ranked well outside the top 250, delivered a performance that belied his ranking of world no. 179, pelting down 24 aces and striking 52 winners to 38 unforced errors. Murray on the other hand was playing his first match after a month off spent at home with his family (including newborn son Teddy) and it looked like it. 

Murray celebrates victory over Griekspoor (PA Images)
Murray had joked about eating too many chocolate biscuits during his time at home but in all seriousness his movement was far from what it should be (and what it was when he won the European Open in Antwerp a month ago). It was really only his trademark sheer bloody-mindedness that kept him in the match, seeing him recover from losing his early break in the second set by re-establishing it and taking the match to a decider.

Murray fell behind 1-3 early after failing to find a first serve in his second service game of the set and narrowly avoided going 1-5 down as Griekspoor looked set for a famous victory, but a poor service game from the Dutch player saw Murray break back to love for 3-4, before holding from 0-30 down when serving to stay in the match at 4-5. Eventually the match went to a third-set tie-break in which Griekspoor’s hammered backhand to end a 25-shot exchange saw him grab the initial mini-break and lead 4-1 before Murray’s trademark impassable defense got him back on serve. An ace out wide from the British player at 5-5 opened up match point and Murray managed to eke out the win.

After the match, Murray said that he and Leon Smith were caught off guard by the Netherlands fielding Griekspoor instead of Botic Van de Zandschlup but reserved his most serious criticism for himself and his lack of conditioning.

Dan Evans had the opportunity to win the tie 2-0 for Great Britain when he served for the match in the second set against Robin Haase but ended up losing in three sets, and it was up to Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski to get the win in a third-set tie-break against Wesley Koolhof and Jean-Julien Rojer.

It was a thrilling win in an epic tie but it doesn’t necessarily fill one with confidence ahead of Great Britain’s clash with Kazakhstan.

The Kazakhs also beat the Netherlands in a decisive doubles rubber after Kukushkin beat van de Zandschlup 6-2, 6-2, Haase defeated Bublik 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(5) and Kukushkin and Bublik teamed up to beat Haase and Rojer 6-2, 7-6(2).

Bublik might not be a familiar name for a lot of people but the 22-year-old is currently ranked world no. 57 and rising fast, having made two ATP Tour finals in 2019 – in Newport (finishing runner-up to John Isner) and Chengdu (finishing runner-up to Pablo Carreno Busta). His unconventional style gives players fits – it’s almost impossible to guess what’s coming off his racquet next – and although he is the type of player I’d usually back Murray, with his superb returning and passing shots, to beat, he’s not the sort of player one wants to face if one is feeling less than totally sharp.

That could be a tough one for Murray and veteran Mikhail Kukushkin will also be a very difficult opponent for Evans, with Kazakhstan also enjoying the luxury of being able to field Kukushkin and Bublik for the doubles – and they clearly proved a very good combination against Haase and Rojer the other day. So make no mistake, this is a tough prospect for Great Britain and Kazakhstan could well beat them to a quarterfinal spot.

Great Britain vs Kazakhstan Davis Cup Finals tennis is live from Madrid on Thursday at 11am local/10am BST  

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Great Britain vs Kazakhstan Davis Cup Finals tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Murray struggling for form in Madrid

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