Delighted Dan Evans sends Britain into Davis Cup semi-finals
A delighted Dan Evans ended his losing run at the Davis Cup finals in Madrid with victory over Jan-Lennard Struff to send Great Britain through to the semi-finals for the third time in five years.
Evans had lost his first two singles matches against Dutchman Robin Haase and Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan from a set up but refused to accept the same fate against world number 35 Struff.
With Andy Murray, who was again left out of the side, cheering on from the sidelines, Evans withstood pressure in the third set to come through a deciding tie-break and win 7-6 (6) 4-6 7-6 (2).
Coupled with another impressive win by Kyle Edmund, who defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3 7-5, Evans’ victory was enough to seal the tie for Britain without the need for a deciding doubles rubber.
Evans’ place had been in question but captain Leon Smith stuck with him ahead of Murray and was rewarded with a display of real skill and heart from the 29-year-old.
He dominated the deciding tie-break and, when Struff’s final shot flew wide, Evans leapt high and threw his racket into the air before running to celebrate with Smith and the rest of the team.
The 2015 champions will face either host nation Spain or Argentina on Saturday evening.
This victory, though, means they are guaranteed to be back in Madrid next year, with semi-finalists exempted from March’s play-off round.
The only disappointment was the size of the crowd, which appeared noticeably smaller than for Britain’s two group matches – a concern Murray had raised ahead of the event.
The British fans who had stayed made a good noise, though, and both Edmund and Evans responded in style.
At 36, Kohlschreiber’s best days may be behind him but he remains a dangerous customer, particularly off his one-handed backhand, and he has been in good form here.
The German was a little wild in the first set against Edmund and the Yorkshireman took advantage, securing the only break of serve in the sixth game.
The second was much tighter. Kohlschreiber became the first player this week to break the Edmund serve for 3-1 but a fine game from the 24-year-old reduced the arrears straight away.
Edmund is known for his bulldozer forehand but it was his backhand doing a lot of the damage and another break for 6-5 set up a chance to serve for the match, which he took to love.