BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) Once again, Britain had Andy Murray to thank for a victory in the Davis Cup.
Murray recovered from squandering a two-set lead to beat Kei Nishikori and give the defending champions a 3-1 win over Japan in the first round on Sunday.
Murray won 7-5, 7-6 (6), 3-6, 4-6, 6-3 for his 14th straight victory in the Davis Cup, digging deep in his third match in as many days. This was the second-ranked Murray's first event after five weeks off, during which he became a father for the first time.
''He is a man of steel, isn't he?'' Britain captain Leon Smith said of Murray.
''He is amazing. It is a privilege to sit there with him, and we will remember that for a long time.''
Britain will play a quarterfinal match against Novak Djokovic's Serbia in July, continuing the defense of a title it won for the first time in 79 years. Serbia defeated Kazakhstan 3-2.
The grueling contest between Murray and the sixth-ranked Nishikori lasted almost five hours and featured many memorable rallies. Murray appeared to be struggling physically during the third and fourth sets, but found some energy for the fifth set.
''The crowd helped, for sure,'' said Murray, whose last action before this Davis Cup match was a loss in the Australian Open final to Djokovic on Jan. 31.
Murray preserved his record of having lost only once in his career from two sets up - in 2005 against David Nalbandian at Wimbledon when Murray was aged 18.
It was Nishikori's first loss in 13 Davis Cup matches, a streak stretching back four years.