July 17, 2015 / 6:20 PM / 4 years ago

Britain and France level after opening Davis Cup rubbers

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s double grand slam champion Andy Murray defeated France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to level their Davis Cup quarter-final tie at 1-1 after Gilles Simon beat James Ward earlier on Friday.

Tennis - Great Britain v France - Davis Cup World Group Quarter Final - Queen?s Club, London - 17/7/15 Great Britain's Andy Murray in action during his singles match. Action Images via REUTERS/Andrew Boyers/Livepic

At the picturesque Queen’s Club in west London, Murray, ranked third in the world, beat the popular and hard-hitting Frenchman 7-5 7-6(10) 6-2 to restore parity after Ward had been well beaten in the opening rubber.

After two evenly-contested sets in front of an atmospheric crowd, Murray broke Tsonga twice in the third to complete victory.

“What Andy just did was exceptional. There was a lot of pressure on him,” Britain’s captain Leon Smith told the BBC.

“At 0-1 down you have to get that rubber on the board and he a great job with that yet again with an inspirational performance. He’s a great champion.

“I thought that second set tie-breaker shows why he’s the player he is. I thought he was immense.”

Murray may be back for the crucial doubles rubber on Saturday before the final two singles matches on Sunday.

“I always want to play but I’ve also had a long few months,” Murray told the BBC. “It’s about doing what’s best for us to win the title. We’ll chat about it and hopefully I can play.”

World number 11 Simon, ranked 78 places higher than Ward breezed past the Briton, who hit 52 unforced errors, 6-4 6-4 6-1.

“It was a great match for me,” Simon told the BBC. “I got lucky to have an early break in each set and I’m really happy about the match I played today.”

A strong French side also includes this year’s Wimbledon semi-finalist Richard Gasquet — whose superb run at the grasscourt major was ended by eventual champion Novak Djokovic.

The winner of the tie will face either Kazakhstan or Australia in September’s semi-finals.

Reporting By Tom Hayward; editing by Toby Davis

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