Ward puts GB in control
James Ward upset the odds to pull off a thrilling five-set victory over Sam Querrey and put Great Britain in total charge of their Davis Cup clash with the United States in San Diego.
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After Andy Murray handed Britain the ideal start with a straight-sets demolition of Donald Young, world number 175 Ward shocked Querrey, ranked 49th in the world, to put the away team 2-0 up in the best-of-five contest.
Victory for Murray and Colin Fleming over the Bryan brothers on Saturday in the doubles would seal victory - and a place in the quarter-finals for the first time since 1986 - although captain Leon Smith must now be tempted to rest the Wimbledon champion given victory for him over Querrey on Sunday would guarantee victory.
Regarding that decision, Smith told BBC Sport: "That's a conversation that I'll have with the guys tonight and tomorrow morning. I'm pretty open about it.''
Murray showed no ill-effects from his Australian Open exertions and had no apparent problems adapting to the newly-laid clay at Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres baseball team, as he raced to a 6-1 6-2 6-3 triumph.
Ward's win was even more impressive, though, as he battled for more than three hours on his way to a 1-6 7-6 (7/3) 3-6 6-4 6-1 victory.
The big-serving Querrey was the clear favourite, but the English player justified the faith shown in him by captain Leon Smith to record a famous success.
He fought back from 4-2 down in the fourth set - at which point he had failed to create a single break point on Querrey's serve - and won eight straight games to turn the match on its head.
A fifth consecutive break of the American's serve left Ward serving for the match and he duly completed victory with a nerveless overhead put-away.
Ward told BBC Sport: "I love playing Davis Cup, I love playing for my country and that shows in my performances
"It's such a great win. I played well, dug in and gave myself a chance and in the end it worked."
Earlier, Young, the world number 79 who replaced the injured John Isner in the US team, had no answer to Murray's game as the Wimbledon champion wrapped up victory in the first rubber of the World Group first-round clash.
Murray went into the match on the back of a run to the quarter-finals in Melbourne and still feeling his way back into the rigours of the main tour after back surgery.
But he needed no time to find his feet on Friday as he broke twice in each set to finish the match in one hour 38 minutes.
He was dominant on serve, not even facing a break point in the first two sets and saving the two he did in the third, and laid brutally into Young's second serve.
"It's important to get off to a good start," Murray said.
Murray said the court had played slower than during practice over the past days because of the damper conditions, but added: "It's still pretty slippy, it's tough to change direction."
Murray's win was the first time Britain had won a live singles rubber at a Davis Cup World Group tie since Tim Henman defeated Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman in 2002 in Birmingham.
And it was followed immediately by a second as Britain put themselves in an excellent position to claim their first Davis Cup win over the US since 1935.