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Murray greater than Perry after Davis Cup triumph

Andy Murray would be the first knight of British tennis. Should he receive an invitation to the palace, he would surely also be the first Briton of any profession or walk of life to gain a knighthood as a result of adventures in a Belgian warehouse.

But there was another upgrade in status to consider after Murray propelled Great Britain to a first Davis Cup victory since Fred Perry's team defeated Australia on the Wimbledon grass in the summer of 1936.

The moment that Murray's backhand lob fizzed and looped over David Goffin's head to win the team competition -- those illegally low-hanging Belgian girders couldn't stop history -- was the time to stop thinking of the Scot as the greatest British player since Perry.

Murray's status is a little higher than that: he is the greatest British tennis player of all time. So above Perry, above that mythical figure of British tennis, the one immortalised as a statue in the grounds of the All England Club, as the polo-shirt of choice for mods, and as the name that always seems to follow the words 'not since'.

Perry, incidentally, was never knighted as the British tennis establishment -- and the establishment in general -- wasn't so fond of a man whose father had been a Labour MP.

Tennis today is so substantially different to what Perry played in the 1930s that it's helpful to regard them as two different sports, and to view the game that Murray plays as superior in every way. Perry's time wasn't nearly as competitive or as physically and mentally demanding as the world that Murray operates in.

A personal view is that Murray's record of achievement -- one Olympic gold medal, a US Open title, one Wimbledon victory and now the Davis Cup -- is weighty enough to imagine that he now stands above Perry, who achieved the career Grand Slam by scoring all four majors at least once, as well as winning four Davis Cups.

In his day, Perry didn't have rivals such as Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic to contend with, all three of whom are universally regarded as being among the greatest players to have ever swung rackets.

Even in this golden era of tennis, Murray has snaffled plenty that shines and glitters, with this Davis Cup now added to that collection. He is only the third man in history, after Andre Agassi and Nadal, to win the Olympic singles tournament and the Davis Cup. And now, like the other three members of the Fab Four of the modern generation, he has won this monster-trophy, some 105 kilograms of silver and wood.

"Murray has definitely nailed the title of the greatest British player of all time," Greg Rusedski wrote in his Telegraph column on Monday. "Fred Perry was fantastic, but this era throws up some very different challenges."

This was the third time that Murray had been The First Since Fred, with his triumph at the 2012 U.S. Open making him the first British man to win a major singles trophy since Perry in 1936, and his 2013 Wimbledon success ending a 77-year wait for a British male Wimbledon champion.

And Murray hasn't heard the last of what Perry accomplished in the 1930s. To do that, he would have to win the Australian Open, which no British man has achieved since Perry's 1934 success, and also become the first British winner at Roland Garros since Perry in 1935.

Of course, the party line is that this was a team effort, and it's true that Murray didn't do this completely on his own. But he wasn't far off. The only point that he didn't contribute was James Ward's victory over John Isner in the first round against the United States in March. The other 11, Murray won either on his own or when playing doubles alongside his brother Jamie.

By beating Goffin, Murray became only the third man, after John McEnroe in 1982 and Mats Wilander in 1983, to win eight singles rubbers in a year. In addition, he was only the fourth player in history to score 11 or more victories in a year, following on from McEnroe in 1982, Michael Stich in 1993 and Ivan Ljubicic in 2005.

Murray almost needed his own personal statistician on that bench in the Flanders Expo -- he was the first man to win three live rubbers in a final since Pete Sampras did so against Russia in 1995.

Consider the help that Perry had in his time from Bunny Austin, a man good enough to have played in two Wimbledon singles finals. Perry never carried a team as Murray has done this year.

And while Perry won this trophy four times, three of those were won in years when Britain, as the defending champions, had a bye straight into the final. This year, Murray's Britain had defeated all three of the other Grand Slam nations -- the United States, France and then Australia -- before arriving at the end of the tramline for this final against Belgium.

So Perry was a showman of the courts, and after winning matches would often jump the net to shake hands with his opponent. But Murray can top that; what could possibly be more dramatic than winning the Davis Cup with such a backhand?