ANDY MURRAY cried tears of joy after Great Britain reached the Davis Cup semi-finals for the first time in 34 years.
Murray came from a set down to beat France’s Gilles Simon and clinch Britain’s overall victory before letting his emotions show.
The Scot was playing his third match in as many days and fatigue looked to have taken its toll when he trailed Simon by a set and a break, but the Scot dug deep to win 4-6 7-6 (7/5) 6-3 6-0.
His comeback handed Britain an unassailable 3-1 lead in the best-of-five tie at Queen’s Club and sets up a last-four clash with Australia in September, vying for a place in the final.
Murray beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Friday before partnering his brother Jamie Murray to a win in the doubles on Saturday, and the completion of the triumph meant it was the first time two brothers had won all the points to secure a World Group victory since Zimbabwe’s Byron and Wayne Black achieved the feat in 1998.
“The whole weekend has been fantastic,” said Murray.
“This team has done amazing things. We’re punching above our weight here. We’re in the semi-finals now of the biggest competition in tennis.
“It’s been a long road back from where we were a few years ago but there are many players who have played their part in getting us here.
“I’m just proud to get here and hopefully we can do well against Australia in September.”
Murray was beaten by Roger Federer in the Wimbledon semi-finals just seven days before this tie began, and the British No 1 had to draw upon all his powers of physical and mental resilience to overcome Simon.
“It feels unbelievable to get through that,” Murray said.
“It wasn’t looking good in the second set but I managed to find a way and used up every last ounce of energy.
“I tried to change my tactics, I was making too many mistakes and Gilles was playing so solid.
“I just chased every ball down, I didn’t care how I played, I just wanted to win the match today and that’s what I did.”
Murray gave Simon early encouragement with a number of sloppy shots and the Frenchman broke in the third game, unleashing a superb forehand winner down the line.
Simon was sharp and even a nasty slip at 4-3, which required treatment on his right knee, could not derail the world No 11, who served out the first set with ease.
Murray had tried to capitalise on his opponent’s injury with drop shots but Simon looked much the fresher of the pair and maintained his charge with a break in the first game of the second.
His troubles deepening, Murray threw his racquet to the turf to a chorus of jeers from the jubilant French fans and Simon could have clinched a double break, and surely a two-set lead, if he had converted another break point at 4-2.
Murray looked drained, as every error finished with a slump, and after one particularly exhausting rally was lost, he dropped to his knees seemingly in desperation.
Body language with Murray, however, is rarely definitive and as Simon failed to land a knock-out blow, the Scot hit back, winning four games out of six to force a tie-break.
Unforced errors allowed Simon to race into a 4-1 lead but again the Frenchman was too generous as Murray lost just one of the next seven points to level at one set all.
Whether it was the packs of sushi at changes of ends or the ecstatic home crowd, Murray appeared a man transformed, as he clinched two breaks at the start of the third to open up a 3-0 lead.
Simon checked his opponent’s momentum with one break back but it was not enough, as a superb Murray lob wrapped up the set to put the Briton in front.
Consistency and movement had been key to Simon’s earlier success but both began to waver as another slip allowed Murray an easy volley for an early break in the fourth.
Simon again had to take treatment, this time for his left ankle, but the stoppage did nothing to halt Murray, who claimed a second break when Simon slapped a simple volley into the net.
Murray wrapped up victory when a Simon backhand flew wide and, after leaping about the court with a Union Flag in hand, the Scot was unable to hold back the tears as he embraced captain Leon Smith.
“It was an amazing effort, incredible,” Smith said. “He’s an unbelievable fighter. Everyone sees that.
“It’s tough on the opponents when they face Andy because he’s just got a never-say-die attitude - and he showed it again today.”