Great Britain’s Davis Cup captain finds one word to sum up extraordinary win against France

Kevin Palmer
Dan Evans and Neal Skupski won a dramatic Davis Cup doubles decider
Dan Evans and Neal Skupski won a dramatic Davis Cup doubles decider

The Davis Cup had has its critics in recent years, but anyone who witnessed the remarkable scenes at a sold-out Manchester AO Arena on Sunday will confirm this competition is alive and well.

After over nine hours of intense action, Dan Evans and Neal Skupski somehow found a way to take Great Britain into the Davis Cup Final 8 with a dramatic winner-takes-all win in an epic doubles contest.

Evans recovered from a set and a break down to defeat teenage debutant Arthur Fils and then, after Cameron Norrie had lost a close battle against Ugo Humbert, teamed up with Neal Skupski for a hugely tense 1-6, 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (8-6) victory over Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

The British pair saved four match points in the deciding set before clinching their second match point in the tie-break, sparking scenes of huge jubilation.

The 2-1 win earned Britain top spot in their group and booked their place in November’s final eight week in Malaga, where a quarter-final against either Italy or Novak Djokovic’s Serbia awaits.

A sell-out crowd of 13,000 at the AO Arena, a single-day record for the competition in Britain, also played its part as Leon Smith’s side completed an unbeaten week after earlier successes against Australia and Switzerland.

“At about 6-1 in the first set, I thought he’d picked the wrong team! Thanks to every single one of the fans here,” said a clearly emotional Evans as he tried to find the words to sum up the drama on court.

“I know with Davis Cup, it’s never simple. It’s an amazing crowd, there are so many of you here. You got me through playing a set and a break down. It’s everything to me.

“A set down, the guys on the bench said get the crowd involved. Some embarrassing stuff from me. It doesn’t matter, we’re going to Malaga.”

A shell-shocked Skupski was also lost for words as he reflected on one of the biggest wins of his career.

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“I don’t know how we’ve won that fight, sheer fight,” he said.

“Incredible effort from Dan to come out and win this match with me. First set it wasn’t too good and I thought I wouldn’t be getting picked again.

“We regrouped, took a toilet break and fought as hard as we could. Dan saving three points in the third set. The rest is history and we’re off to Malaga.”

Great Britain’s Davis Cup captain Leon Smith described the never-ending Sunday in Manchester “bonkers” as his decision to select the out-of-form Norrie didn’t come back to haunt him thanks to the heroics from Evans and Skupski.

“I ran over to the DJ at one point and told him to put on some banging tunes at every end change,” he said. “We needed a bit of help and that’s normal. Thank you Manchester and thank you LTA for putting it on.

“It was bonkers. I don’t know what I’ve just sat through for nine hours.

“The team is amazing. We get on very well. Everyone’s played a part. It’s all those guys and girls standing there who are amazing.”

Britain’s Andy Murray made it clear that he is not a fan of the current format of the Davis Cup that looks certain to be changed by the International Tennis Federation next year.

Yet if this is to be the final installment of this version of the World Cup of team tennis, it was given a memorable send-off in Manchester.