Great Britain reached the semi-finals of the revamped Davis Cup the efforts of both Kyle Edmund and Dan Evans both of whom scored excellent singles victories to ensure an unassailable 2-0 winning lead over Germany.
I felt like I let the team down the last two days. Dan Evans
Edmund led the way by beating Phillip Kohlschreiber 6-3 7-5, breaking through in the sixth game of the opening set and having claimed it, fought back from a break down in the fifth game of the second. He broke again in the 11th game for a 6-5 lead and then served out to love to put Team GB one point up.
Evans followed him in court and produced the performance of the week as far as he was concerned having earlier lost both his group matches as he squeezed past Jan Lennart Struff 7-6(6) 3-6 7-6(2) and establish Britain’s unassailable 2-0 lead.
Evans earned his first break in the ninth game to go 5-4 up only for Struff to strike back immediately, but the British No.1 made good in the tie-break.
Struff egged on by Boris Becker and his team of supporters leveled the match to the concern of the Brits wondering whether Evans was on his way to record a third consecutive loss.
The doubters were proved wrong as Evans stuck into the third, saving two break points in the fourth game to hang on for another tie-break where the 29-year-old from Birmingham took immediate control losing just 2 points to seal a memorable win.
An elated Evans could hardly contain himself as he ran to embrace his captain Leon Smith in celebration.
Later he said: “I felt like I let the team down the last two days. To come back and get it like that is amazing for them. They all supported me through everything over the last few days. I am so happy that I am through.”
Edmund, who had replaced Andy Murray for a second time as the Scot continued to recover from his grueling three-hour marathon on the first day, was equally content at his contribution.
“I thought my level today was good,” he said. “Sometimes when you play first, you are running first, you are running on adrenaline, pumped to be out there. As the days go by, the challenge is to keep that consistent.”
Awaiting the British in the semis is Spain, recently installed as title favourites with the demise of Novak Djokovic’s Serbia earlier in the day, who will virtually be playing a home tie in Madrid.
Smith will now have to make the decision as to whether to send Murray out or keep faith with Edmund.
“Where Kyle and Evo are at is ahead of where Andy is just now,” said Smith. “And when you’ve got two very, very good players like Kyle and Evo that are ready to go, then that’s what we do.”
Murray’s support from the sidelines though, has not gone unnoticed.
“I really liked seeing how Andy supports the guys as well today,” Smith continued. “He genuinely wants everyone to be up in the rankings, doing well, supporting each other.
“And I think it’s a good feeling for everyone. We know it’s not just about Andy.
“He’s still a massive part of what we do, and of course he’s going to be.”
What is more of a concern is that the Madrilenos will be out in force to provide partisan support. On Friday they had 12,000 urging them on while the British Germany tie attracted a much smaller contingent of 1,000.
To combat that the LTA have allegedly purchased a block of tickets and are offering them to British fans. Murray has even posted an Instagram message promoting the offer.
Spain had to rely on Rafa Nadal winning back to back matches for their semi-final place in their tie against Argentina.
World No 1 Nadal thrashed Diego Schwartzman 6-1 6-2 to pull Spain level after Guido Pella put the Argentines ahead with a 6-7(3) 7-6(4) 6-1 win over Pablo Carreno.
Nadal then teamed up with Marcel Granollers to beat Maximo Gonzalez and Leonardo Mayer 6-4 4-6 6-3 in the doubles decider.
“I had a good singles match, but the doubles came down to a few balls because the game was very close,” Nadal said. “It’s a great victory, but we don’t have time to enjoy it – we have to rest because tomorrow it will be difficult again.”
Earlier Russia beat Novak Djokovic’s Serbia to reach the last four following a cliff-hanger match that went all the way to a deciding tie-breaker.
With the quarter-final level at 1-1 following the singles, the Russian pairing of Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev faced Djokovic and Viktor Troicki in the deciding rubber.
After a see-saw match the Russians emerged 6-4 4-6 7-6(8) winners to face Canada, who claimed their quarter-final victory over Australia on Friday evening.
“It was heads or tails and the coin fell on our side,” Rublev said.
“We’ll have to get it together for Canada,” Kachanov said of their next tie. “Luck was on our side here, but this was one of the biggest games of either our careers.”
Rublev won the first singles over Filip Krajinovic 6-1 6-2 to give Russia a lead which was cancelled out later by Djokovic, who overcame Khachanov 6-3 6-3.
The world No. 2, Djokovic, reflected after their defeat. “Sport is not all about winning and losing but this hurts me personally,” said the 32-year-old who seemed to pick up a small injury which required massaging during the match. “A sudden movement caused a sharp pain, but I was still able to serve,” said Djokovic.
“Anyway the season is over now, we’ll get over it. Tomorrow is another day.”