Not a good start for Britain who lost 2-1 in their opening Davis Cup tie to the USA in the Group D play offs being staged in Glasgow which finished with Joe Salisbury and Andy Murray losing the doubles at 1.00 am on Thursday morning after play had kicked off at 4-00 pm Wednesday with Dan Evans facing Tommy Paul.
But with the new format, obviously we got two more matches. We need to try to look at the positives from today. I think everyone played a good level from what I saw Andy Murray
Late endings seem fashionable following last week’s US Open where, on several occasions play finished well into the next morning, a feature which Andy Murray has now described as ‘unprofessional’ and ‘inappropriate’ and could be avoided by amending the schedule and starting earlier.
“Look, it would be better if they were earlier I think for everyone involved,” Murray said during his press conference, which started after 1.30am.
” I don’t think it’s ideal for the fans. There’s probably half of the people in there at the end of the match that were there at the beginning. It’s a bit of a shame because, well, they missed a great match.
“For the ball kids and things like that, it’s inappropriate. Yeah, the players are still able to go out and compete. But it’s not ideal for the US team to come back and play tomorrow… It’s not ideal.
“It’s not just here, obviously. We’ve seen it at the US Open even just last week. It’s something that tennis needs to sort of have a bit of a think about. I don’t think it looks that professional.”
The timing did ensure a full house of some 7,500 spectators on a working day but many had to leave tto catch the last modes of public transport before the doubles was called up well after 10 pm which meant many Glaswegians failed to see their hero in action in what was a high quality, three -et match as the Brits fought hard to swing the tie their way with Jack Sock and Rajeev Ram claiming it 5-7 6-4 7-5.
“We were playing against one of the biggest legends of the game, playing in his home county,” Sock told the BBC. “It was an electric atmosphere. We stuck it out and got the win.”
“It’s tough, it’s 1.00 am on a Thursday and we’ve got to go again in 13 hours,” US. captain Bob Bryan added. “Kazakhstan (their next opponents) won’t be any easier.”
Earlier in the day Tommy Paul world ranked 29, had given the Americans the start they had hoped for when he beat Britain’s No.2, Dan Evans, ranked four places above him 6-4 4-6 6-4 and for a brief moment the tie looked to be swinging the visitors way when Britain’ No.1 Cameron Norrie lost the first set of the second rubber in 45-minutes, to Taylor Fritz.
Norrie, currently ranked No.8 in the world, did turn the tables on Fritz who is also riding high in ranking terms at 12, as he recovered well to level the tie 2-6 7-6(2) 7-5 leaving the doubles to decide the final outcome.
Murray, who virtually single-handedly won the Davis Cup for Britain in 2015, was making only his second Davis Cup appearance since 2016, and, teaming up with the world No.1 doubles player, Joe Salisbury, the pair looked to be certain favourites for that final point.
However, Salisbury’s usual partner Rajeev Ram, was on the other side of the net which gave the rubber a certain level of uncertainty as Jack Sock is another accomplished doubles player.
And so it proved for after two-hours and 49-minutes, the Americans eventually squeezed past the Brits by recovering from a set and a break down to post to claim that deciding point.
Britain now faces The Netherlands on Friday and Kazakhstan on Sunday which they must win if the team is to at least secure second place to go forward into the knock-out stages next November in Malaga Spain
Speaking after the tie, the team weren’t too disheartened.
“It’s difficult. It’s a tough one. But another good effort,” Evans said. “That’s Davis Cup, isn’t it? They’re all tough matches. We knew this one was going to be tough. It certainly proved to be for me. I played good tennis. Just couldn’t get over the line.”
Norrie added: “I think for me, I know exactly what’s on the line. I know it’s a must-win match for us. I think the more the pressure, the more I was backed into a corner, the better I actually played today.”
Meanwhile Murray stressed the positives: “The only positive from tonight is that usually you lose a Davis Cup doubles match, it can lose you the whole tie or whatever, you’re knocked out of the competition. But with the new format, obviously we got two more matches. We need to try to look at the positives from today. I think everyone played a good level from what I saw,”
The mood throughout the evening at the Emirates Arena had been dampened down considerably for a Davis Cup tie with a minutes-silence and no boisterous uplifting music being played during the change-overs with the nation still in mourning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
“It was sombre [during the] change of ends,” Evans pointed out. “Something was missing. That’s what it is at the minute. We’re very lucky to be playing. Thankfully, the event was allowed to go on. We’re just doing the best out of what we can. Yeah, it was still a good atmosphere, still enjoyed it.”