James Ward and Daniel Evans win their single tennis matches after doubles pairing Jonny Marray and Colin Fleming won their match to keep the hopes of defeating Russia alive. Russia took a 2-0 lead at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry when Ward and Evans were beaten in five sets in the opening day.
Fleming and Marray defeated Igor Kunitsyn and Victor Baluda 6-1 6-4 6-2 to make the overall score 2-1 and give Great Britain a boost. Then James Ward beat former Davis Cup winner Dmitry Tursunov 6-4 5-7 5-7 6-4 6-4 in an exciting marathon match to level the overall scoring 2-2. Daniel Evans, world ranked 325, then shocked the Ricoh Arena by conquering over his opponent who was ranked 245 places higher, Evgeny Donskoy, 6-4 6-4 6-1 as Britain grabbed a place in the World Group play-offs.
This is the first time Great Britain have comeback from 2-0 down to defeat their opponents since the days of Fred Perry in 1930. Russia, who have won the Davis Cup twice before, went into the Ricoh Arena as clear favourites to win after Andy Murray announced that he could not take part for his country as he was focusing on his clay court performances after winning the Sony Open in Miami the other week.
James Ward commented after the match, “This has to be one of the sweetest victories of my career, after injuries last year and coming so close to winning on Friday, winning this in five is a big achievement for me. I was two sets to one down against a guy who’s been 20 in the world. If anything, it’s even more pleasing beating Tursunov. He’s been a bit of a bogey man for me.”
Ward’s victory then set the stage for Evans, who was also the hero against Slovakia last year for Great Britain, and was the hero again this year. Evans admitted, “I expected to have to do quite a lot more running than I did and it was quite surprising how the match went, I think for both of us. But obviously I was really happy with that and I played really well. I thought we were so unlucky on Friday to come away two five-set matches down. It was almost a bit of a joke. I think we deserved a bit of luck today.”
The draw for the play-offs takes place on Wednesday and now that world number 2 Andy Murray has said he will play for Great Britain in September, they have a good chance of returning to the elite World Group level. Evans was only playing after Great Britain’s team captain Leon Smith decided to choose him over Britain’s number three Jamie Baker.
Author Daniel Foster.
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