Murray's 'minor miracle' seals Great Britain Davis cup win
Month-long break does UK's number one the world of good as he wins three matches in three days
Andy Murray returned to the tennis court this weekend for the first time since the birth of his daughter and recorded three wins out of three to ensure reigning Davis Cup champions Great Britain progressed to the next round of this year's competition.
Murray's "minor miracle", as Simon Briggs in the Daily Telegraph described it, culminated in a 4hrs 54mins win over Japan's Kei Nishkori in the final singles match on Sunday.
Britain's number one eventually prevailed 7-5, 7-6, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3 at Birmingham's Barclaycard Arena, but not before he had been put through the wringer.
A see-saw match saw Murray take a two set advantage before the world number six came storming back to level proceedings. When Nishikori broke in the opening game of the final set, "it seemed that the momentum might have shifted decisively," according to The Independent's Paul Newman.
Murray, however, responded in "typical teeth-gritting fashion" to win the next three games.
The performance is all the more remarkable considering the Scot had not picked up a racket in competition since his defeat to Novak Djokovic in January's Australian Open final and hadn't been expected to play in all three matches.
"My body is very sore just now. I have put myself through a lot this weekend," said Murray afterwards. "I have volunteered for all three days and I maybe wanted to win too much. I was getting frustrated when I wasn't taking opportunities I should have."
Leon Smith, Britain's captain, said he was "lost for words".
He added: "He's a man of steel, isn't he? What Andy managed to do was astonishing since he hasn't played since the Australian Open final."
Attention has already turned to Britain's next opponents, Serbia, and the prospect of a mouth-watering clash between Murray and Djokovic in Belgrade just a week after Wimbledon.
"It is a tough match away from home. That gives them a slight advantage and the tie comes at a difficult time of year," said the player.
He should have little to fear, though, says Simon Briggs in the Telegraph. This was Murray's 14th straight win in a Davis Cup match, singles and doubles, breaking Fred Perry's record and proving that it is in this competition that he at his most impressive.
"When [Murray] plays for the collective, he seems able to access a different part of himself from the one than is available 12 months a year," he writes. "Unlike many elite sportsman, he comes across as a man who is genuinely concerned for the well-being of those around him and that may be why this competition suits him so well."