The Murray brothers, Jamie and Andy, combined to put Great Britain 2-1 up in their Davis Cup tie against Japan at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham. The siblings overcame the challenge of Yoshihito Nishioka and Yasutaka Uchiyama in impressive fashion, defeating their opponents in straight sets (6-3 6-2 6-4).
Prior to the match, much of the speculation surrounding its outcome had centered on the line-ups of both teams, with Andy's place in doubt due to his absence from the sport following his loss at the Australian Open and the birth of his first child. Ultimately, however, the world number two decided to take the court and delivered another typically assured performance in the Davis Cup.
By contrast, Japan's star player, Kei Nishikori, opted to miss the match and save his legs in preparation for a potentially pivotal singles encounter on Sunday. His absence was sure to have been a boost to the British duo, who raced to victory against their over-matched opponents.
After a slightly sluggish opening to the match, the Murray brothers began to take control of the contest and won the first set 6-3. Their obvious superiority extended into the second set, too, as they won it 6-2, without having to contend with much resistance.
But, to their credit, the Japanese duo clawed themselves back into the contest in the third set, making the British duo wait until late in the set for the all-important break of serve. Thereafter, Andy Murray served out the final game of the set to give the hosts a 2-1 lead in the tie.
Andy subsequently admitted he relished the opportunity to play alongside his brother. "We know each other's games extremely well, so that helps," he explained during his post-match interview. "When the ball goes into a certain part of the court I know what shot he will hit and vice-versa. My strengths and his strengths make a decent team. It was a good win today."
Meanwhile, Jamie was similarly delighted by their performance. "We played a great match from start to finish," he said. "We were very solid, it wasn't easy because they played some good shots and gave us some tricky moments."
Jamie also revealed he was not surprised by Japan's decision not to play Nishikori. "I wasn't really surprised. My coach thought they were going to play him. But Kei played a long match with Dan Evans and has not played much doubles for Japan. I thought they were going to stick with this pair," he shared.
Victory in the doubles match means Britain require just one more point from the two singles matches on Sunday to secure a quarter-final place and World Group status in 2017.