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Davis Cup: GB v USA - Day Three

Andy Murray DC

It's hard to believe it was November 2012 when I last watched Andy Murray play a live tennis match. Prior to that I had been in New York City in September and missed my plane home along with my mother as we watched him win the US Open, his first Slam title. It was worth it. On that occasion I managed a grainy, far-away photo from the top of Arthur Ashe stadium in which Murray is a tiny figure in a white top holding a shiny trophy.

In July 2013 I did slightly better and got a decent shot from underneath the balcony of Centre Court when he emerged as Wimbledon Champion, having watched the first two sets on the big screen before getting the best spot under the balcony with my friend.

Since then, nothing. I have been back to Wimbledon and the ATP Finals at the O2 but did not see a live game.

For that reason I was going to make the most of watching him play the deciding rubber in the Davis Cup tie versus the USA. It was the same reason I was sort of glad GB did not win the doubles as it meant that Murray v Isner would be a "live" rubber instead of a "dead" one.

I was only going to take my 18-135mm lens. I had seen other spectators in the crowd with similar lenses but I did not want to lug my heavy 70-200mm Sigma around with me.

My mum - henceforth known as "Mam": I'm from Sunderland - and I caught the train up to Glasgow on the Sunday morning. The transfer at Edinburgh was more straightforward than the last time we had made that journey, and we found a bus to the Emirates easily enough.

The Emirates turned out to be a new, vast, multi-sport venue beside the immense Parkhead football stadium. Sir Chris Hoy's velodrome looked to be in the same complex as the Emirates, although we did not have the time to have a good look around.

It must have been the first time we actually made it for the start of a Davis Cup match.

There are not many people who make Andy Murray look small, but at 6'8" John Isner did just that as they met at the net for a photograph.

As they had been all weekend, the crowd was noisy and exuberant, joining in with Runrig's "Loch Lomond" with special gusto as the players warmed up.

Isner showed no ill effects from his marathon loss to James Ward on the Friday night, hardly surprising coming from the man who won 70-68 in the fifth set against Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010.

The American's serve was as reliable as ever and Murray struggled to get into his service games. We were hardly worried, we knew he would figure it out before long.

However in Murray's second service game he had to fight hard to fend off a break, and again and again.

The crowd urged him on and coupled with his patience and skill he managed to hold until the first set reached a tiebreak.

Isner's first point was a double fault. From there Murray never looked back and he soon had the first set wrapped up.

Despite having the odd danger-moment, Murray was now playing more freely, making inroads into Isner's service games.

The highlight of the match came at 3-2 when, having fashioned himself a break point, Murray hit a delightful lob which beat Isner for height and pace. After Ward had hit a lob winner over Isner on Friday there was no way Murray would let his match go without one.

That would prove to be the only break of the match. Murray served out the set without fuss, aided by Hawkeye when his serve was called long. He immediately challenged and the screen showed it had caught the line by a whisker. It was even closer than his successful challenge in the final game in the US Open final.

Now it was Murray having more break point chances on his opponent's serve, but time and again that same serve came to Isner's rescue.

Again we headed into a tiebreak, again Murray took the early advantage. His first match point went begging with a tight shot into the net but he made no mistake on the second.

The Emirates erupted as we celebrated a victory against the USA that would have looked unlikely had it not been for Ward's phenomenal yet now true-to-form win over the much higher-ranked player.

Now to look forward to a home quarter-final tie against France in July!

James Ward and Donald Young took to the court to begin the final match, although it would have no bearing on the result. Ward was the first to drop serve but he fought back and took Young to a tiebreak.

Despite Ward winning the breaker, after one game in the second set he had to retire from the match; understanding given his exertions on Friday and the prospect of a long flight to Indian Wells with Murray ahead of him.

Nonetheless the crowds left buoyant, another successfully hosted Davis Cup tie behind them. Once again they had provided great drama and great television, every day was a sell-out as people all over the country fought the online battle for tickets.

Not only for Andy Murray did they show great love and support, but to the English Ward who once again rose above his potential for the privilege of playing for his country.

I said it had been a long time since I last watched a live match. I will not leave it so long again!

I did not get many photographs: my 550D is too noisy for a quiet tennis match and even though I was 13 rows from the court I did not like to take a chance mid-rally.

However I finally got the shot in Edinburgh that I wanted to get last March on the way home from Iceland. On that occasion it had been about midnight when we got to the Travelodge just behind Princes Street where we were having an overnight stop and as we were going for food anyway I decided to get a photograph of the Waverley hotel all lit up at night. However in the space of five minutes between getting into the Travelodge and going back out the lights had been turned off!

This time around, although it was bitterly cold and I did not have a tripod, I took a couple of shots. Hardly earth-shattering but I got them!

We had time for a quick meal at Jamie's Italian on George Street before we caught the train back to Newcastle at 8pm. As usual we had just missed a metro back into Sunderland so had an eleven-minute wait for the next one. One day we will just catch a metro!

It had been a long day, exhausting despite the almost constant sitting down and my brain would barely function all through Monday. But it was worth it.

It was worth it to finally be back in the same building as Andy Murray, to see him hitting those will-they-won't-they drop shots and that spectacular lob; but also to see the passion and pride of the tennis fans.

As always they created a convivial, party atmosphere and their players thrived in it. Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot could have had the tie won on the Saturday as they stayed toe-to-toe with the Bryan brothers until 15-13 in the fifth set. Not that the crowd cared. They had seen a brilliant and entertaining doubles match and with Murray yet to play again the tie was still very much in their hands.

Now we just have to wait until the announcement as to where the next tie will be played and do it all over again!