Britain leads U.S. 2-0
SAN DIEGO -- It was a rally that truly came out of left field.
James Ward won 10 of the last 11 games to take a stunning five-set victory against Sam Querrey and give Britain a 2-0 lead against the United States in the first round of the Davis Cup on a temporary red clay court in the outfield of Petco Park, the downtown home of baseball's San Diego Padres.
Ward, ranked 175th in the world, was two games from losing the match when he began his rally that gave him a 1-6, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory.
With dusk approaching and the lights on at the downtown baseball park, Ward won the match with an overhand smash. He leaned back, pumped his fists and hollered as his teammates, watching from one side of the court, jumped to their feet in celebration.
"It's great to be around a group of guys you don't really have the support of normally, every week of the year," Ward said "It's certainly a different feeling. You're not just playing for yourself, you're playing for everyone else."
Ward's victory in 3 hours, 11 minutes, followed Wimbledon champion Andy Murray's easy straight-set victory against Donald Young, who was making his Davis Cup debut. Murray has won 17 straight Davis Cup singles matches.
Britain can clinch the match on Saturday if it wins doubles. Murray and Colin Fleming are scheduled to face Bob and Mike Bryan. Captains have until an hour before the match to make any changes. Murray, who had back surgery in September, said he feels good to go for doubles.
Querrey, the United States' No. 1 singles player in this tournament and ranked No. 49 in the world, had a 4-2 lead in the fourth set after winning the sixth game at love.
But Ward rallied to win the next four games and the set to force a deciding fifth set. He jumped to a 4-0 lead in the fifth set before Querrey broke serve with a bleeder over the net to pull to 4-1. Ward then closed out the match.
Ward didn't break Querrey's serve until the eighth game of the fourth set to tie it at 4-4.
"I thought Sam served really well from the beginning to the first three sets," Ward said. "It wasn't me returning badly. He made a lot of good serves. But in the end I got some chances and it happened."
Ward improved to 9-5 in Davis Cup play.
"Look, I love playing for my country," he said. "Every time I do it, it obviously brings something out in me that's a bit different, which I didn't see in the first set."
He said team captain Leon Smith told him to come out of his shell.
"And I did," Ward said.
Ward said his parents traveled to San Diego for the match and are staying with long-time friends.
"I came here when I was a kid," he said. "People always said, 'Where is your favorite place in the world you've been,' and I have often said San Diego. It's a great place. I love being here. Again, to play a great match like today was pleasing."
Querrey said he was "a little bummed obviously that I couldn't help the team. But it's not over. You have to win three points. And if we can bounce back tomorrow and Bob and Mike win the doubles and then I think our side takes two on Sunday."
"I thought he played well," Querrey said of Ward. "He came up with some good shots. A few break points that I had earlier, maybe if I had come through on those it could have been different. But he played well throughout the match. I started missing a few first serves when I needed them. But he did a good job of putting returns in later in the match and ended the match."
U.S. captain Jim Courier said Ward played the way the Americans thought he would.
"He was up, he was down, he was all over the place, but in the end he fought all the way through and the quality he showed shined through."
Murray overwhelmed Young 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 in 1:38 in the opener of the World Group match.
Murray was barely challenged by Young. The two-time Grand Slam winner took leads of 5-0 in the first set and 5-1 in the second set.
Young never broke serve but took the sixth game of the third set to four deuces before the British star had an ace and then won when Young netted a backhand.
"I played a good match today," Murray said. "I gave him very few opportunities when I was serving. I gave him a couple in the third set which was due to his good play and him playing better and me making some mistakes. But overall it was a good match for me."
Murray, who had back surgery in September, said playing a relatively short match on Friday gives him a good chance of playing in the doubles match Saturday.
"That obviously helps," he said. "Weekends like this you want to try conserve as much energy as you can when possible. Days can be quite long, and playing three days in a row is challenging so it's good to get one three sets so we have options when we play tomorrow."
In other World Group matches, France leads Australia 2-0, Kazakhstan leads Belgium 2-0, Germany is up 2-0 against Spain and Switzerland leads Serbia 2-0. The Canada-Japan, Italy-Argentina and Netherlands-Czech Republic matches are tied 1-1.
Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press
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