Exhausted and emotionally drained, Andy Murray fell to the ground, finally releasing the iron grip that carried Great Britain to their first Davis Cup triumph since the days of long trousers and cigarettes between points.
It had been 79 years since Britain last accomplished the feat, sustained by the dream team of Fred Perry and Bunny Austin.
As Murray’s conclusive, sublimely executed backhand lob sailed over a prone David Goffin and several inches inside the baseline, the Scottish superstar crumbled to the ground in elation, having carried his team throughout the competition.
Belgium’s Flanders Expo in Ghent provided the stage from which the drama unfolded, with the home side selecting a slow clay surface in an attempt to negate Murray’s influence.
That theory proved futile, with the world number two virtually as adept on all surfaces in 2015, as showcased in a thrilling French Open semi-final earlier this year, where world number one, Novak Djokovic, required five sets to dispense with the Scot in one of their many memorable encounters.
Others contributed to GB’s four excellent wins. James Ward’s unexpected 15-13 fifth set triumph over USA’s John Isner proved pivotal in a 3-2 first round victory, and Jamie Murray backed up his younger bro’ in the doubles, with the pair winning both of their encounters against France and Belgium.
Still, this would not have been conceivable without the unwavering desire of the squad’s talismanic spearhead, who ticked another goal from his bucket list often, at the expense of results within solo competition.
Indeed, Andy entered the ATP World Tour Finals clearly distracted by the impending Davis Cup decider. Having trained almost exclusively on clay courts in the build-up, he struggled to adapt to the harder surface of London’s O2 Arena, crashing out in the group stages, although in retrospect those extra recovery days proved beneficial.
From the street of Dunblane to British sporting royalty, a Knighthood is destined to come his way, although preferably only after retirement has kicked in; tribute to a remarkable career.
With his first child on the way, life is rosy for a 28 year-old at the peak of his powers. He should retire from Davis Cup action immediately to focus on four final career goals;
Become world number one for the first time
Win the French Open
Win the Australian Open
Win the ATP Tour Finals
Achieve those and his career will have a feeling of finality about it, although with the irrepressible Djokovic on the scene (and born within a week of Murray), all may not be plain sailing.
For now it’s only right that Murray should bask in the glow of arguably his most unlikely triumph to date. To cajole glory from a team that in recent years lost matches to Ecuador, Lithuania and Morocco, is an accomplishment that deserves to be savoured.