Great Britain beat France in thriller to reach Davis Cup quarter-finals | Davis Cup

Under immense pressure in a penalty shootout, Great Britain beat France 2-1 to advance from the Davis Cup group stage and advance to the quarter-finals. After previous victories against Australia and Switzerland, the team finished the week undefeated and top of their group.

The tie was dictated by the sparkling form of Evans, who sealed the opening point by recovering from a set down to defeat Arthur Fils 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 before Norrie was eliminated 7- 6 (5), 3. -6, 7-5 by Ugo Humbert.

Evans returned for the deciding doubles alongside Skupski and after being led by Nicolas Mahut and Édouard Roger-Vasselin by a triple match point from deep in the final set on Evans’ serve, they managed to recover for close an astonishing 1-6, 7-6 (4). , 7-6 (6) victory.

Great Britain now advances to the knockout stage, which takes place from November 21-26 in Malaga.

After a week of criticism of the competition format, where clashes between neutral nations attracted few spectators, this was an increasingly rare glimpse of the Davis Cup at its best: two high-quality teams going head-to-head in front of a massive, partisan crowd in the Manchester stadium. first tie in 29 years. The 13,000 sold-out spectators constitute a British record for the Davis Cup.

The Great Britain team celebrates qualifying for the Davis Cup quarter-finals in Malaga in November.
The Great Britain team celebrates qualifying for the Davis Cup quarter-finals in Malaga in November. Photography: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images for LTA

A fascinating aspect of this format, however, is the unpredictability of team selections, as the final selections remain open until an hour before the start of the match. In a demonstration of Great Britain’s depth, Smith changed his singles lineup three times in three days, this time opting for the team’s higher-ranked players.

Armed with his huge serve and his vicious, heavy forehand, Fils burst into the match playing fluid and destructive offensive tennis while taking the lead in the set and break. But Evans used all his experience to fight his way through, refusing to miss the match, guiding the crowd and catching Son’s mistakes with his slice. From 6-3, 3-1, he managed seven games to lead by a break before serving well to hold off a disgruntled Son.

Afterward, Evans said his affinity for the Davis Cup dates back to his childhood, when various meets held in Birmingham were his first experiences of seeing professional tennis live. “All those matches were in Birmingham and that was one of my first introductions to tennis,” he said. “Obviously Wimbledon, but it was a long way from where I live. That was my first introduction. For me, it was the ultimate goal to play the Davis Cup for your country, and it still is.

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Although Norrie was by far the highest-ranked singles player in action, he has struggled with his form since Wimbledon and entered the court having lost six of his last eight matches. This was reflected in his performance as Norrie fought well but was outplayed by Humbert, who hit 20 aces, in the deciding moments. The difference between them was a poor service game from Norrie at 5-6 in the third set, ending with a double fault on match point.

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“I guess it could have gone either way, but he played better in the important moments and that’s why he won,” Norrie said.

Despite the importance of the final battle, Evans and Skupski struggled to find rhythm in the first set against a faultless French team. Both men dug deep in the second set, continually relying on the raucous crowd as they narrowly survived the second set.

As the tension increased, it spread to the support benches. Evans had not been happy with Fils’ handshake after their singles match and during the third set the two men exchanged words, with Evans motioning for the French team to be quiet.

Both teams managed their service games well in the final set until Evans and Skupski struggled under the weight of scoreboard pressure, trailing 0-40 and triple match point before Evans does serve incredibly well for escape.

Skupski then saved another match point at 5-6 before completing an incredible comeback in the final set tie-break.


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