Great Britain pulled off an impressive 3-2 victory over Canada to secure their progress to the Davis Cup Quarter-Finals where they will face France.
Unfortunately for spectators, the two best players from each country, Andy Murray and Milos Raonic, were out of the contest. The reason cited for Murray was rest following the Australian Open, while Raonic was injured. Nevertheless, the tie still provided plenty of entertainment going down to the last rubber.
Things started off smoothly enough for Great Britain with Dan Evans comfortably beating 17-year-old Denis Shapovalov in straight sets. While Shapovalov may have hit more winners than Evans, he was ultimately too erratic hitting 39 unforced errors.
The next match produced a similarly one-sided affair with Vasek Pospisil beating Kyle Edmund in straight sets. Given the fact that Pospisil is currently ranked outside the top 100, it was a bit of a surprise – although he has previously been ranked as high as 25 in the ATP World Rankings.
As is often the case with the Davis Cup the doubles was to prove crucial in deciding the outcome of the tie. Dominic Inglot and Jamie Murray put in a big performance to win in four-sets, three of which were tie-breaks to get past Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil. This meant that the pressure was off Evans, and it was just as well because he lost in four sets to Pospisil
Evans was ultimately overpowered by his much taller opponent and, although he staged a spirited fightback, almost forcing a fifth set, he never really looked in control of the match.
It all came down to Edmund and Shapovalov to decide the outcome of the tie. Edmund handled the pressure incredibly well, with Shapovalov showing glimpses of quality but ultimately showing a lack of experience with this being only his second Davis Cup tie.
But this match will be remembered for another reason with the young Canadian getting disqualified early in the third set, trailing two sets to love, for striking the umpire in the eye with a ball.
Of course it was clearly unintentional as having just had his serve broken, Shapovalov had intended to hit the ball in the crowd in frustration, but it was still a horrific incident that saw him rightly disqualified and subsequently fined.
Looking ahead to the next round, Great Britain have been drawn away to France, an incredibly exciting looking tie.
“The likes of Richard Gasquet, Gilles Simon and Jo-Wilfred Tsonga will prove very tricky opponents for Dan Evans and Kyle Edmund”
Great Britain’s prospects will heavily depend on what surface the tie is played on and whether Andy Murray plays or not. The British team will feel a lot more comfortable if the tie is played on hard court as opposed to clay which would certainly give the French an advantage.
But of greater importance is whether Andy Murray plays. If he does then he will be expected to win both his singles matches but if he doesn’t then play then Great Britain will struggle.
The likes of Richard Gasquet, Gilles Simon and Jo-Wilfred Tsonga will prove very tricky opponents for Dan Evans and Kyle Edmund. As the tie is being played in early April and the French Open doesn’t start until the end of May bar any injuries, Murray will be expected to play.
Meanwhile in the womens’ game, Great Britain’s Fed Cup captain Anne Keothavong believes the team can emulate the men’s Davis Cup victory and “put women’s tennis on the map in this country”.