Andy Murray has drawn first blood for Great Britain with a merciless straight-sets mauling of Thanasi Kokkinakis in the opening rubber of Australia’s Davis Cup semi-final in Glasgow.
The fierce patriotic fervour inside the Emirates Arena swept Murray to a 6-3 6-0 6-3 victory in one hour and 47 minutes.
The lop-sided win piled the pressure on Bernard Tomic to beat Dan Evans in Friday’s second singles match to keep Australia in with a realistic chance of taking the best-of-five-set tie.
Boasting a 23-2 win-loss record in Davis Cup singles, and undefeated in a home tie, Murray played sublimely to raise hopes of Great Britain reaching their first final in 37 years.
The world No.3 broke Kokkinakis six times and dropped just six points on his own service throughout the entire match – and three of those points were Murray double-faults.
So dominant was he that the Scot wasn’t even pushed to deuce in any of his 12 service games.
Murray’s emphatic victory earned Britain its first live-rubber point in a Davis Cup tie against Australia since 1978.
Kokkinakis had started confidently enough, firing down a 170km/hr second-serve ace in his opening service game.
But he followed up with a double-fault to quickly find himself down his first break point of the match.
The youngster did well to block out ever-growing chants of “oooooh” with successive service lets to save the break point with a nerveless backhand volley drop shot before safely holding for 1-1.
Kokkinakis stared down two more break points at 15-40 in his second game, but again held firm.
The teenager’s resistance was finally broken on his sixth break point as Murray snared a 4-2 advantage before taking the first set after 44 minutes with his fourth ace.
Kokkinakis dropped serve for a second time in the opening game of the second set amid a run of 10 straight points to Murray.
The second set was as good as lost when Murray claimed a third break to charge to a 4-0 lead.
Looking eager to finish it and back up for Saturday’s all-important doubles, Murray completed the second-set bagel in 23 minutes to move in for the kill.
Kokkinakis tried to hang tough in the third set, but victory was never in doubt for Murray.
Tomic, enjoying a career-high ranking of 23rd, is a heavy favourite to level the semi-final with success over world No.300 Evans.
But Evans did beat Tomic in their only previous meeting at the US Open two years ago and will look to seize on any nerves from the Australian No.1 as he too, like Murray, rides the home-crowd support.
British captain Leon Smith has named Jamie Murray and Dom Inglis to face Lleyton Hewitt and Sam Groth in the doubles, but both skippers have until an hour before the match to alter their line-ups.
Smith will almost certainly team up the Murray brothers if the tie is locked at 1-1 after the opening day.