After their tie against France produced one of the most exhilarating conclusions you could ever wish to see, Britain have set up a Davis Cup Quarter-final meeting with Novak Djokovic’s mighty Serbia.
Britain had started their Davis Cup campaign very well on paper. Victory over Australia and Switzerland in their first two matches (both at a score of 2-1), would normally have been enough to provide them with safe passage to the quarter-finals.
But after Australia beat Switzerland 3-0 in the tie the day prior, Britain’s match against France became a must win, with the victor joining Australia in the last eight.
The first match of the tie saw Britain’s Dan Evans take on 19-year-old French star Arthur Fils, who had been brought in to replace Adrian Mannarino.
The talented French teenager (who promises to have a breakthrough 2024), looked to have repaid his Captain’s faith, when he took the first set 6-3 and led the early stages of set two 2-0.
But Evans, who has proved invaluable to Britain during this Davis Cup, utilised his experience over his young foe to fight back, winning 14 of the last 15 points of set two, taking it 6-3.
In a tight third set, it was Evans who triumphed 6-4, giving Britain the perfect start to their must-win tie, putting them one win away from the quarter-finals.
The crucial second match saw British no.1 Cam Norrie take on Hugo Humbert. Set one went the way of Humbert 7-6, but Norrie battled back to win set two 6-3, taking it to another deciding set.
This time it was France who got the rub of the green and levelled the tie, after Humbert won the final set 7-5, following a double fault from Norrie.
The tie would be decided by the doubles.
Once again, the go-to doubles pairing of Dan Evans and Wimbledon Doubles Champion Neil Skupski were given the task of taking Britain to the quarter-finals.
They were to face the vastly experienced French pairing of five-time Grand Slam Doubles Champion Nicolas Mahut and 2014 French Open Doubles Champion Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
The French pair dominated set one, taking it 6-1 with two breaks of serve, little did anyone know that those would be the last breaks in the match.
Nothing could separate the players in set two which would be decided by a tie break. Evans and Skupski took control of the breaker and eventually triumphed 7-4 to take us to the third deciding set of the tie.
Yet again there was nothing between the pairs, until the score read 4-5 with Evans serving. Mahut and Roger-Vasselin won the first three points of the game to lead 0-40, now with three match points.
However, Evans once again demonstrated nerves of steel, combining fantastic serving with extraordinarily well-judged leaves, to win the next five points and level the set at 5-5.
Despite these heroics, Britain were not out of the woods yet and again had to save a match point in their next service game, this time it was Skupski who hit an ace on the crucial point. The tie would be decided by a final set tie-break.
The French pair took early control of the breaker, leading 4-2. But after some remarkable hitting, Britain were right back in it at 4-4. The pairs continued to go blow for blow, neither seemingly willing to give the edge.
However, on their second match point, Skupski stood at the baseline and fired down a serve to Roger-Vasselin’s backhand. The Frenchmen sent the return long, giving Britain a famous victory, 8-6 in the tie-break.
Evan’s heroics had seen Britain progress to the quarter-finals as group winners. They will now have a daunting task ahead of them if they are to progress further in the tournament as they take on Novak Djokovic’s Serbia in the quarter-finals.
The Serbians managed to overcome Spain to finish second in their group behind the Czech Republic, but will still be one of the favourites for the tournament, especially as Djokovic is likely to play his singles now that they have reached the quarter-finals.
Britain’s exhilarating triumph over France is a great advert for the Davis Cup as the ITF continue to try and increase its popularity.
If Britain are successful against Serbia, then a meeting with either Italy or the Netherlands awaits in the semi-finals.
For Britain to repeat the heroics of 2015, then the doubles pairing of Evans and Skupski will be crucial. It will be interesting to see who is chosen to represent Britain in the singles with a huge pool of talent available.
Will Andy Murray, Jack Draper, Cam Norrie or Evans be the one to take on Djokovic in the quarter-finals? The answer awaits in Malaga in November, but we can only hope the tie is as exiting as the one we just received in Manchester.