Hopes of GB getting off to a good start in their Davis Cup Qualifying tie against Colombia were dashed when Dan Evans was beaten in their opening rubber by Nicolas Mejia on the clay courts of the Pablo Viejo Country Club’s clay courts in front of a raucous and partisan crowd.
Evans, the current world No. 30, was gutted by his 6-2 2-6 6-4 defeat to Mejia, ranked 253, which he described as the “hardest loss he has had to take” but was pleased that Norrie later levelled the encounter when he took down the world No. 510 Nicolas Barrientos, 6-2 7-5.
“I did my best – it was obviously very difficult conditions,” Evans admitted.
“But there’s a job for the weekend – it’s not just for today, that’s why it’s the three points and not just one and that’s why it’s important now we focus on Cam and hopefully get a win.”
Unlike Evans, Norrie seemed to enjoy the conditions and thought the atmosphere was great “especially as I haven’t had the experience of an away tie in a while, so it was great to have the atmosphere and I thought they were very respectful and very loud, which was great”.
Norrie added: “It’s always difficult playing away and with the altitude and this surface but I really enjoyed the atmosphere, and I was able to put enough balls in the court to get over the line and tomorrow’s a big day so looking forward to that.
“I think I can improve on a lot of things today going in to tomorrow. Let’s rest up and get ready for tomorrow, it’s gonna be a really big day, we’re gonna take it to them and definitely make some improvements for tomorrow.”
Captain Leon Smith said he thought his players “did a really good job considering the conditions are difficult” but reserved special praise for Norrie.
“This is why we love Cam to bits, he’s number 11 in the world for a reason,” Smith said.
“He’s got really good experience, he’s got a great game, he competes well, his mentality is really, really good and we’re really proud of what he did out there today.”
That will start with the doubles, always a crucial rubber in Davis Cup encounters with Evans back in action partnering Neal Skupski against former world number one doubles pair Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah on the second and final day.
It will be an opportunity for Evans to not only help put Britain in the driving seat of the five-match tie, but also a chance to prove his case as a doubles player having been overlooked for the doubles rubber when they lost in the Finals last year – a decision he was very critical of considering how critical it proved.
“It’s f**king annoying. It’s disappointing. To be frank, it’s a bit insulting also that I haven’t been picked ever to play the Davis Cup [in doubles]. This is meant in the nicest possible way to the doubles guys, there’s nothing against them – but I don’t need to play doubles on the tour to prove how good I am at doubles. When I do, I normally do okay,” he said at the time.
Providing all goes well with the doubles in Bogota and Norrie can provide the final winning third point, Evans might not be required for the last reverse singles giving Jack Draper a chance to be bloodied in Davis Cup combat against Barrientos who he outranks by 470 places!