In a must win rubber, as has so often been the case at the Davis Cup, and amidst rapturous applause with a far better turnout that on Friday, it was not the best of starts for the British pairing of Dominic Inglot and Jamie Murray. The recently crowned US Open Mixed Doubles champion god his serve broken on his first attempt, to give Denis Istomin and the Sanjar Fayziev an early lead.
Istomin was on top form already, instrumental in the first break and ripping returns to put Inglot under a little pressure too, as the Brits kept the deficit to a single deficit. Failing to put away a couple of chances to break proved costly as Uzbekistan took the first set.
The pressure was still evident from the Uzbeks, with the Brits scrambling to save break points in their first two service games. Any chances they were able to generate for themselves, they could not covert as Inglot started to be targeted by the visitors. His forehand produced a rash of errors, but the Brits managed to hang on their serves.
In the tie-break Britain flirted with taking the set, squandering three set points before giving the advantage back to the Uzbeks, who gave up a set point of their own. If we had to be brutally honest it was more by luck than judgement that Great Britain nabbed the set from under the noses of their opposition, but with a lead going into a tense final day, it was taken – gratefully.
It gave the hosts a measure of confidence as the imposed themselves a lot more in the third set. Even though they were pegged back a break, they steamed through the third set to take the lead 2-1.
With the tide firmly turning in their favour, a commanding break to love set them up nicely for a break lead. It was enough to keep the lead and close out the day with a 2-1 lead after two days of the old Davis Cup drama we have become used to watching.
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Cameron Norrie v Denis Istomin | First Meeting
British No 2 Cameron Norriewill have to put aside a crushing defeat on Friday to the little-known Jurabek Karimov, who certainly made his presence felt. While Norrie looked to brush off the defeat, it was a most inauspicious home debut and one that he admitted would hurt.
The Uzbekistan team is built around the deft hands and experience of Istomin, and if Karimov was a little shaky around the net, Istomin’s performance in the doubles shows he has touch and variety, and most importantly he did not look to be over fatigued in his performance on Saturday.
This is a tough one for Norrie to get past but that being said, it was even more of a mountain to climb on paper for Dan Evans, who pulled off a remarkable win.
Norrie will have to be prepared to stay out there for the long haul, as Istomin is not going to offer him up a repeat of his opening 6-0 start over Karimov.
Dan Evans v Jurabek Karimov | First Meeting
What price confidence? Evans won an emotional match on Friday, and although he asserted that his body had felt good, given the confidence emanating from Karimov by the end of that five-setter, Evans too can expect to be made to stay out there for the long haul.
The key, if it comes down to a fifth rubber, is who can tough it out – and perhaps a slight edge has to go to Evans. He is higher ranked, and has more experience in Davis Cup ties, and for someone who doubted he would ever be involved in this kind of competition again.
Either way – it gives a fitting farewell to Davis Cup (most likely) in Glasgow.
The final day of the play-off starts on Sunday at 12pm BST.
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