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Andy Murray produced his most remarkable Davis Cup effort yet to hold off an inspired Kei Nishikori and send Great Britain through to the quarter-finals for a third straight year.
Murray led by two sets to love but faced losing from that position for the first time in 11 years only to grind out a 7-5 7-6 (8/6) 3-6 4-6 6-3 victory after four hours and 54 minutes at Birmingham's Barclaycard Arena.
That clinched a 3-1 first-round win over Japan for Britain, with Murray winning all three points for the fourth successive tie.
Great Britain captain Leon Smith reserved the highest praise for his main man, saying: "I'm pretty much lost for words. He's just a man of steel.
"You have to give a lot of credit to Kei. He played a great match, one of the best of his life I'm sure.
"It's quite astonishing considering Andy hasn't played since the Australian Open final. He's amazing. It's an absolute privilege to sit with him for a match like that and we'll remember that one for a very long time."
Andy Murray's appetite for another stellar Davis Cup run should see him partner brother Jamie in Saturday's doubles as Great Britain look to restore their lead over Japan.
The teams were tied at 1-1 after the first day of play at Birmingham's Barclaycard Arena, with Murray easing past Taro Daniel 6-1 6-3 6-1 before Kei Nishikori withstood a fierce challenge from Dan Evans to win 6-3 7-5 7-6 (7/3).
Murray's match was his first since becoming a father nearly a month ago and he was wary of committing to doubles as well as singles beforehand, but captain Leon Smith confirmed the plan is for the brothers to team up as they did successfully on three occasions last year.
Andy Murray has won the opening rubber of Great Britain's Davis Cup match against Japan, beating Taro Daniel 6-1 6-3 6-1Read the full story ›
Andy Murray says his top priority is trying to be a good dad following the birth of his daughter Sophia Olivia.Read the full story ›
Andy Murray will lead Great Britain next week in his first outing since becoming a father as the team begin the defence of their Davis Cup title with an opening-round match against Japan.
Murray has not played since losing the Australian Open final to Novak Djokovic at the end of January, in order to spend time with his new daughter Sophia Olivia, who was born on February 7, and wife Kim Sears.
The 28-year-old, though, has been named in an initial five-strong group ahead of the first-round clash against Japan, which begins on Friday, March 4 at Birmingham's Barclaycard Arena.
Great Britain captain Leon Smith has also named Murray's brother Jamie, Kyle Edmund, Dan Evans and doubles specialist Dom Inglot in the team but will have to trim his selection down to four for the tie.
Tennis star Andy Murray and his wife Kim have named their daughter Sophia Olivia, according to reports.Read the full story ›
Andy Murray has become a father for the first time after his wife Kim Sears gave birth to a baby girl.Read the full story ›
The British number one has thanked his wife Kim Sears for her support and told her that he will "be on the next flight home".Read the full story ›