Great Britain has failed to reach the knockout stage of this year’s Davis Cup competition in Glasgow where they lost 2-1 to The Netherlands, the team’s second defeat in the Group D play-offs for a place in the knockout stages scheduled for November in Malaga.
It just sucks, because these matches have come down to a few points and they've not gone our way Andy Murray
Britain needed to win to retain any chance of progressing out of the Group as one of the top two teams but, as in their opening tie, the failure of the doubles pairing of Joe Salisbury and Andy Murray to clinch the deciding doubles point, has committed Team GB to playing a qualifying tie in February, unless granted another wildcard into next year’ Group stages.
The day started well with Dan Evans providing the hosts with the first point by comfortably defeating Tallon Griekspoor 6-4 6-4 only for Cameron Norrie, the world No.8, to suffer a surprising 6-4 6-2 loss to Botic Van De Zandschulp, ranked 27 places below him.
Consequently, as in their tie against the US on the opening day, Salisbury and Murray were called up to take them over the finishing line but again, found themselves embroiled in a tough tussle for that final vital point only to again falter at the crucial moment allowing Wesley Koolhof and Matwe Middelkoop to claim a 7-6(0) 6-7(6) 6-3 victory and join the US with two group wins and a place in November’s last eight.
The Brits will play Kazakhstan on Sunday for the third group spot while the Dutch will meet the Americans on Saturday to decide who goes through to the Malaga event as group winner.
The choice of Andy Murray to partner Salisbury, the current doubles world No.1 rather than Neal Skupski, the doubles world No.3, is debatable but his popularity was more than evident for he always received the biggest cheer with plenty of memories of his brilliant performances to win the cup back in 2015.
The Scot, however, had not played Davis Cup since 2016, and while he gave his all in both his defeats, he couldn’t recapture those heady days.
In both doubles matches there were plenty of opportunities and the tide looked to have turned the hosts’ way when they fended off a match point in the second set tiebreak to go on and level at a set-all.
At 3-3 in the decider, with the momentum behind them, the Brits failed to take some crucial chances which was followed by a loose service game from Salisbury handing the initiative to the Dutch who snatched the chance to wrap up the tie in their favour.
“It just sucks, because these matches have come down to a few points and they’ve not gone our way,” Murray told a news conference after what was his 50th Davis Cup rubber.
“I have been fortunate to play a lot of these matches over the years, and, you know, come through them. That hasn’t happened this time around and I feel sad about that, because I think we had the possibility to have a really good run here.”
That was certainly the case for the team, in many people’s minds, was possibly the strongest in depth that the country has fielded in many a year with three top 50 players in the squad plus the world’s first and third ranked doubles players.
There was disappointment with Norrie possibly feeling the defeat the most as he described his performances.
“That’s not a player that’s of my ranking, and that’s me on a really bad day,” he said.
“That’s not the level that I have. That’s not the level that I’m capable of. I’m disappointed with that.”
As a mark of respect during the period of national mourning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the tie didn’t have the usual music between games and a minute’s silence was held before play started, but the fans were still able to provide a good atmosphere as Murray pointed out.
“We had really a great atmosphere out there again today. I’ve loved all of the chances I got to play here,” the 35-year-old said, acknowledging the support he gets from his fellow Scots.
“And obviously, when you get to sort of my age and this stage of your career, I don’t know how many opportunities I’ll get to still be part of this team.”
In other action Germany and Italy booked their places in the last eight.
In Bologna, Matteo Berrettini crushed Argentina’s Sebastian Baez 6-2 6-3 and then Jannik Sinner beat Francisco Cerundolo 7-5 1-6 6-3 to give Italy a winning 2-0 lead in the tie and ensure they would feature in the top two places in Group A.
Italian pair Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini then lost the doubles to Maximo Gonzalez and Horacio Zeballos in three sets.
In Hamburg, Kevin Kraweitz and Tim Puetz gave the hosts a 2-1 victory when they beat the Belgian pair of Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen 4-6 6-2 7-6(5) in the deciding doubles.
“Nights like this live long in the memory,” said German captain Michael Kohlmann.
Jan-Lennard Struff had given Germany a winning start by beating Zizou Bergs 6-4 7-6(9) but David Goffin fought back from a set down to overcome Oscar Otte 3-6 7-6(7) 6-3.
Germany’s victory eliminated France which had lost its opening two ties in Group C.
In Valencia, Carlos Alcaraz, the youngest ever men’s world No.1 at 19 after his US Open triumph, had a bittersweet homecoming as he lost to Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-7(3) 6-4 6-2 in his country’s Group B loss to Canada.
Given an ovation by the home fans after his first Grand Slam conquest on Sunday, the Spaniard and his Canadian opponent played out a thrilling second singles rubber, with Canada levelling the tie at 1-1.
Alcaraz, from nearby Murcia, had watched from the sidelines on Wednesday as Spain beat Serbia 3-0.
On Friday, after the players had split two fiercely-fought sets, Alcaraz faded, perhaps unsurprisingly after his marathon matches in New York.
World No.13 Auger-Aliassime broke straight away and then again to go 4-1 ahead, holding off the Spaniard despite strong encouragement from the crowd.
Roberto Bautista had put Spain 1-0 up in the tie after coming from behind to beat Vasek Pospisil 3-6 6-3 6-3.
Pospisil and Auger-Aliassime rallied for a 4-6 6-4 7-5 doubles win over Marcel Granollers-Pujol and Pedro Martinez Portero to move Canada to the top of the group and within sight of advancing to Malaga.