Del Potro sinks Murray as Argentina takes 2-0 lead

Juan Martin del Potro delivered a huge blow to Britain's hopes of retaining the Davis Cup when he beat Andy Murray 6-4, 5-7, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4 in a five-hour thriller. Later, Guido Pella then beat Kyle Edmund 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 in the second singles as Argentina grabbed a 2-0 lead in its world group semi-final on Friday.

Davis Cup Del Potro

Juan Martin del Petro emerged victorious from a fierce battle with Great Britain's Andy Murray in the Davis Cup semifinal on Friday.   -  AP

Juan Martin del Potro delivered a huge blow to Britain's hopes of retaining the Davis Cup when he beat Andy Murray 6-4, 5-7, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4 in a five-hour thriller as Argentina grabbed a 2-0 lead in its world group semi-final on Friday.

World number two and Wimbledon champion Murray looked poised to chalk up his 30th victory in 32 Davis Cup matches when he led by two sets to one against the man he beat in last month's Rio Olympics singles final.

But Del Potro, ranked 64th in the world after being plagued by numerous injuries, refused to surrender and condemned Murray to only his third singles defeat in the men's team competition after finishing off the marathon encounter with an ace.

“I won but I still remember Olympic final. This is very important to me and my team and we are looking to reach another final in the Davis Cup,” Del Potro said courtside.

“Against Andy you never know when the match will finish. He is a dangerous player, a fighter and great champion. In end I played good forehands and good serves and that was key.

“I am so happy to be playing tennis again after three surgeries. This kind of moment was what I was missing...”

Britain's day went from bad to worse in Glasgow as Guido Pella then beat Kyle Edmund 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 in the second singles. Friday's defeats mean the host has to win the three remaining rubbers if it is to reach the final for the second year running.

The big serving Del Potro capitalised on Murray's mistakes to take the first set, which included one rally of 41 strokes.

Towards the end of the second, both players, while appreciating the backing of their respective supporters in a noisy crowd, were upset by excitable calls of “out” from spectators.

That happened on the final point of the set to Del Potro's fury, the umpire declining to replay it.

He recovered his composure in the third set, taking two of the three successive breaks of serve while running up a 5-3 lead.

But Murray saved a set point with a superb lob and drew level at 5-5 before taking it on the tiebreak.

Del Potro, who won the U.S. Open in 2009, then showed what he was capable of producing as he pummelled winners from the baseline to bag the next two sets and leave Argentina two wins away from reaching their first final since 2011.

The winner will face either France or Croatia, who are locked at 1-1 in the other last-four tie, in the final.

France v Croatia

Croatia and France were tied at 1-1 after Friday's singles in their Davis Cup semifinal clash in Zadar after Richard Gasquet and Marin Cilic both won their matches.

Gasquet, who stood in for the injured Gael Monfils, put the visitors ahead with a no-nonsense 6-2, 7-6(5), 6-1 victory against Borna Coric.

Marin Cilic then levelled the three-day tie by beating Lucas Pouille 6-1, 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-2.

Gasquet, who was called into the team on Wednesday when US Open semifinalist Monfils pulled out with a knee injury, blazed through the match against Coric, relying on his trademark backhand winners.

“I know how to beat Cilic, it's going to be a tough match, he's on his home turf and won in Cincinnati but I know how to play to beat him,” said Gasquet, looking ahead to Sunday's reverse singles.

Coric was hampered by a knee problem that forced him to pull out of the US Open.

Pouille, who beat Rafael Nadal in the last 16 of the US Open, was no match for Cilic, whose serve was too much to handle for the Frenchman.

Cilic, the world number 11, dominated his opponent with his powerful forehand and closed it out when Pouille served his fifth double fault.

Saturday's doubles will feature Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert against Marin Draganja and Ivan Dodig.

Davis Cup Results:

World Group semifinal: Croatia 1 - 1 France (Richard Gasquet (Fra) def. Borna Corin 6-2, 7-6(5), 6-1; Marin Cilic (Cro) def. Lucas Pouille 6-1, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-2 )

Great Britain 0 - Argentina 2 ( Juan del Potro def. Andy Murray 6-4, 5-7, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-4); Guido Pella def. Kyle Edmund 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3, 6-2