Great Britain eye return to past glories after securing Davis Cup seeding
Cameron Norrie secured the winning point on Sunday.
Cameron Norrie ensured Great Britain could bid a fond farewell to the traditional Davis Cup format in Glasgow.
A 3-1 victory against Uzbekistan, achieved with a match to spare thanks to Norrie’s 6-2 6-2 6-0 win over Sanjar Fayziev, guaranteed Britain will be seeded when the new-look competition gets under way next year.
There was no relegation at stake but Britain’s last World Group play-off win still had plenty of significance.
It was fitting that their final tie in the old format was held in Glasgow, the scene of so many recent Davis Cup triumphs, especially as after the revamp it might not return for some time. The new World Cup-style tournament itself will be held at a neutral venue so only February’s qualifiers will be home or away.
The tie was the first step on the path to redemption for Dan Evans, back in Great Britain colours for the first time since a 12-month ban imposed for testing positive for cocaine.
The 28-year-old certainly made the most of his chance as he came through a thrilling five-setter on Friday to beat world number 60 Denis Istomin.
There was redemption, too, for Norrie, the British number two who on Friday was two sets ahead and had a match point in the third-set tie-break of his match against Jurabek Karimov, only to choke spectacularly and lose in five. It was a different story for Norrie on Sunday.
Friday’s seven-hour, 10-set marathon across the two opening singles rubbers will also be a thing of the past with best-of-three now the way forward.
Jamie Murray and Dom Inglot’s victory over Istomin and Fayziev in the doubles on Saturday gave Britain a 2-1 lead and Norrie the opportunity to make amends for his loss to Karimov.
And the 23-year-old did not disappoint, roaring past Fayziev in less than two hours to wrap up victory.
It was all achieved without Andy Murray and Kyle Edmund, British tennis’ two poster boys who will hopefully be fit and back in contention next year.
“The important thing was to get a seeding to avoid the strongest nations, although I think it will be interesting to see how the draws pan out with some of the results,” said GB captain Leon Smith.
“Once we find out who we are playing in February, or if we get a wild card, then we will look forward to whatever the challenge is, whether it’s February or into the finals we want to be there and see what it’s like and be successful.
“We’ve got a really good team, and hopefully we can welcome back both Kyle and Andy next year.
“This so-called meaningless match just didn’t feel like that at all. It was an amazing atmosphere – you saw on Friday how much it meant, there were tears for different reasons at the end of both matches.
“The players really cared, the fans did, the kids who turned out did, that’s amazing, the atmosphere was brilliant.”
Smith’s team, Davis Cup winners in 2015, must surely be among the contenders for a wild card straight into November’s finals.
“It feels like the wild cards are going to be a tricky one for them to decide to allocate before the qualifiers,” Smith said.
“Clearly we’d be a strong candidate based on the last three or four years in the competition, and how we’ve hosted ties. It will be interesting.”
Croatia will face France in this year’s final after a hard-earned 3-2 victory over the United States on clay in Zadar.
But Borna Coric held his nerve in a decider to fend off Frances Tiafoe 6-7 (0/7) 6-1 6-7 (11/13) 6-1 6-3 and secure the clash with France, who tied up a semi-final win against Spain on Saturday.
France built an unassailable 3-0 lead, rendering Sunday’s singles matches dead rubbers. Spain won both for consolation successes and an overall 3-2 margin of defeat, with Albert Ramos-Vinolas beating Richard Gasquet and Marcel Granollers overcoming Nicolas Mahut.
November’s Davis Cup final will be another meeting in a major final for France and Croatia. France beat Croatia 4-2 to win the football World Cup in July.