PARIS: Andy Murray set up a potentially epic Davis Cup semifinals against Lleyton Hewitt’s Australia on Sunday (Monday in Manila) when he spearheaded Great Britain’s 3-1 quarterfinals win over France.
World No.3 Murray clinched his country’s first semifinals berth for 34 years with a 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3, 6-0 win over Gilles Simon, sealing the tie 3-1 after playing three days in succession at Queen’s Club in London.
The 28-year-old’s 23rd win from 25 Davis Cup singles matches secured a first victory over old rivals France since 1978 and took Britain back to the last four for the first time since 1981.
Murray, who won both singles matches and the doubles with brother Jamie, said: “It feels unbelievable to get through. I used up my last ounces of energy.
“It wasn’t looking good in the second set. I was making too many mistakes but I didn’t care how I played. I just wanted to win.
“The whole weekend has been fantastic. This team has done amazing things. We are punching above our weight.”
Britain haven’t won the Davis Cup since 1936 and their last final appearance came in 1978.
They will host Australia in the last four in September while Belgium and Argentina meet in the other semifinals.
Lleyton Hewitt, 34, and playing in his record 40th Cup tie, sealed Australia’s 3-2 victory over Kazakhstan in Darwin with a 7-6 (7/2), 6-2, 6-3 win in the fifth rubber over Aleksandr Nedovyesov.
It was the first time in 76 years that 28-time champions Australia had clawed back from 0-2 down to win a Davis Cup tie.
“I love the back-against-the-wall situation and that’s what we had after day one,” Hewitt said after his 42nd singles win in the tournament.
“We didn’t panic when we were 2-0 down. We’re united for the one goal.”
Sam Groth had earlier kept the tie alive with a 6-3, 7-6 (8/6), 4-6, 7-6 (8/6) win over Mikhail Kukushkin.
The host nation looked on the brink of being dumped out of the competition when they trailed 0-2 after Friday’s singles following defeats for youngsters Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios.
But Hewitt and Groth kept the Australians in the tie with a straight sets doubles win over Andrey Golubev and Nedovyesov on Saturday, setting up a tense final day.
September’s other semifinals will see Belgium host Argentina after both sides sealed their last-four spots on Saturday with wins over Canada and Serbia respectively.
Both Belgium and Argentina benefited from facing weakened rivals in their quarterfinals.
Canada were without world No.8 Milos Raonic and Wimbledon quarterfinalist Vasek Pospisil while world number one Novak Djokovic sat out Serbia’s trip to Argentina.
Belgium will be playing in their first semifinals since 1999 while four-time runners-up Argentina are into their 10th semifinals in 13 years.
Meanwhile, five-time champions Spain were condemned to another season in the Euro-Africa zone after letting a 2-0 first-day lead slip in a 3-2 loss to Russia in Vladivostok.
Spain were without top 10 players Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer and Russia took full advantage by booking a place in September’s World Group play-offs.