Great Britain's Davis Cup final tie against Belgium is tied at 1-1 heading into day two after Andy Murray eased to victory over Ruben Bemelmans in the second singles rubber in Ghent. The world number two, who is set to partner older brother Jamie in the doubles tomorrow (28 November) against Steve Darcis and Kimmer Coppejans, was given a tough test of his credentials in the third set before overcoming a brave opponent 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 on the tricky clay surface at Flanders Expo.
Leon Smith's side entered the match starting at a narrow deficit after key Belgian David Goffin delighted a vociferous home crowd by battling back from two sets down to record a thrilling victory over tournament debutant Kyle Edmund, but Murray's win never looked in doubt despite both players trading breaks early on.
The two-time grand slam winner engineered three break points in game number six. Bemelmans, who reached the third round of the US Open earlier this year, managed to save the first two as Murray took a slight tumble but then sent a forehand long on his way to losing the opening set.
Even the most ardent fan of Belgian tennis would not have expected Bemelmans to successfully bridge such an evident gulf in class and the second set was something of a one-sided affair as he lost the serve immediately courtesy of a brilliant backhand and again at 2-4 despite battling back to deuce.
Although he held a comfortable lead, Murray was as committed and fiery as ever and was twice warned regarding his industrial language before being hit with a point penalty at 0-30. Perhaps playing on that frustration, the home favourite broke at the second time of asking as his opponent sliced wide. However, the favour was returned in the very next game and the tie's highest-ranked star later had to be alert to save a set point and hold for 5-5.
Murray, engaged in a lively back and forth with the passionate home fans, then held his nerve to score one final, pivotal break on a forehand winner before confidently serving out the match and heaping the pressure on to a pivotal doubles rubber. If Great Britain are able to win that, then all eyes will be on the Scot to see if he can seal victory against David Goffin in the opening reverse singles contest on day three.