SAN DIEGO (AP) - It was a rally that truly came out of left field.
James Ward won 10 of the last 11 games to take a stunning five-set victory against Sam Querrey and give Britain a 2-0 lead against the United States in the first round of the Davis Cup on a temporary red clay court in the outfield of Petco Park, the downtown home of baseball’s San Diego Padres.
Ward, ranked 175th in the world, was two games from losing the match when he began his rally that gave him a 1-6, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory.
With dusk approaching and the lights on at the downtown baseball park, Ward won the match with an overhand smash. He leaned back, pumped his fists and hollered as his teammates, watching from one side of the court, jumped to their feet in celebration.
“It’s great to be around a group of guys you don’t really have the support of normally, every week of the year,” Ward said “It’s certainly a different feeling. You’re not just playing for yourself, you’re playing for everyone else.”
Ward’s victory in 3 hours, 11 minutes, followed Wimbledon champion Andy Murray’s easy straight-set victory against Donald Young, who was making his Davis Cup debut. Murray has won 17 straight Davis Cup singles matches.
Britain can clinch the match on Saturday if it wins doubles. Murray and Colin Fleming are scheduled to face Bob and Mike Bryan. Captains have until an hour before the match to make any changes. Murray, who had back surgery in September, said he feels good to go for doubles.
Querrey, the United States’ No. 1 singles player in this tournament and ranked No. 49 in the world, had a 4-2 lead in the fourth set after winning the sixth game at love.
But Ward rallied to win the next four games and the set to force a deciding fifth set. He jumped to a 4-0 lead in the fifth set before Querrey broke serve with a bleeder over the net to pull to 4-1. Ward then closed out the match.
“I thought Sam served really well from the beginning to the first three sets,” Ward said. “It wasn’t me returning badly. He made a lot of good serves. But in the end I got some chances and it happened.”
“Look, I love playing for my country,” he said. “Every time I do it, it obviously brings something out in me that’s a bit different, which I didn’t see in the first set.”
He said team captain Leon Smith told him to come out of his shell.
“And I did,” Ward said.