Great Britain captain Leon Smith praises team for reaching Davis Cup last eight
Last Updated: 03/02/14 8:14pm
Leon Smith: Proud of Britain's hard work
Great Britain captain Leon Smith praised the work ethic of his team after they booked their biggest Davis Cup match for more than a quarter of a century following Andy Murray's clinching victory over Sam Querrey of the United States.
The Wimbledon champion defeated Querrey 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (3-7) 6-1 6-3 on clay in San Diego to give Britain an unassailable 3-1 lead and a place in the quarter-finals for the first time since 1986.
Smith said: "Andy was superb there. Sam came out swinging, playing risk-free tennis. Once Andy started to move the ball around more he tired out Sam.
"But this is a massive team effort. People don't see the work off the court. We should be proud of the team spirit and what the guys have achieved here.
"I was saying to the guys during the week that we've used 11 different players over the last few years - a true team effort. It's great to have this team spirit running through."
Britain's reward for winning in California is another away tie, this time against Italy, who are sure to choose clay again for the clash in early April.
That will be another uphill task for Britain, with Italy boasting top-35 clay-court specialists Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi.
The teams have met 15 times before, Italy winning 11 of them, while Britain's only victory on Italian soil came in 1926 in Rome.
Murray has stated his intention to take part in all the ties, fitness permitting, and playing on clay in April should suit him well given he will be building up to the European clay-court season and, specifically, the French Open.
When Smith, who was Murray's childhood coach, took over in 2010, Britain had just lost to Lithuania and were one defeat away from relegation to Europe/Africa Zone Group III, the lowest tier of the competition.
They have lost just one match since, a particularly notable achievement given Murray has played only sparingly.
The crucial victory against the States came not from the Scot, though, but from world No 175 James Ward, who stunned Querrey in five sets on Friday.
Smith's latest big call came on Thursday, when he opted for Ward over highly-rated teenager Kyle Edmund for the second singles spot alongside Murray.
All the indications had been Edmund would play, but Smith gave Ward a chance and the Londoner repaid him handsomely and looks likely to keep his place alongside the world No 6 for the tie against the Italians.