There was a lot of trepidation and anxiety in the British camp as they concentrated on another very important doubles rubber, but this time they were without the World No.1 singles player Andy Murray, often pivotal in their doubles wins. Taking his place was Dominic Inglot in only his fourth ever Davis Cup match having been merely a spectator watching on as the Murray brothers tackled the Great Britain doubles matches in the recent matches.
The Canadians were experiencing their own problems. Former Top 25 player Vasek Pospisil, who also happens to be a grand slam winner in doubles, is facing issues with his left knee, which became apparent in his first singles match against Kyle Edmund. The Canadian was an obvious option but a calculated risk to feature in the doubles, but Canada took the gamble as Pospisil prepared for Murray and Inglot on the other side of the net.
It was always going to be a close encounter. All four were experienced doubles players that understand the dimensions of of the game, so from the beginning it was particularly obvious that a few points would separate the outcome of the match. After three close tie-break sets, Great Britain took a well-deserved lead, but seized full control of the match with a break in the fourth set, before taking the match 6-3 in over 3 hours of brilliant tennis.
Dan Evans comes in as the favourite in this match because of the way that he has handled the role of being British No.1 for this tie in Ottawa. I think the difference between Evans and Edmund is that Edmund needs a lot of match wins under his belt in order to feel ultra confident on the tennis court, whereas Evans has a natural aura of confidence and self-belief that drives him through a lot of his big wins in big matches. I think Evans would be better prepared for a match of this magnitude, especially following his exploits Down Under to begin the 2017 grand slam season, where he made the fourth round, losing to Jo Wilfried Tsonga in four sets.
Vasek Pospisil has the ability to play ‘fire from the hip’ tennis, where his power game can be overwhelming for his opponent, but Evans is the type of player that can make life extremely uncomfortable and unpleasant for the power players on tour. The Briton has great movement from the back of the court and gets a lot of balls back, which I think the Canadian will struggle to work out. Evans will give less away compared to Edmund, who helped Pospisil come through unscathed in the second singles rubber. Evans has more of a ruthless streak and will tackle the deficiencies of the Pospisil backhand when given the opportunity. It will be a compelling battle if the Brit truly is up for the fight and is prepared to leave it all out on the court for his country.
Prediction: Evans in four sets.
Kyle Edmund vs Denis Shapovalov in the fifth rubber
If Evans fails to win the fourth rubber, Edmund will face Denis Shapovalov in the deciding rubber. Edmund has had the benefit of experiencing match-wins at Davis Cup level. He won his first Davis Cup singles match against Serbia last year, which felt like such a weight had been lifted off his shoulders, but he has never been part of a Davis Cup fifth rubber. That is a unique experience in itself, which can be extremely hard to prepare for.
The good thing for Edmund is that Shapovalov struggled with the speed of the court in his first match. Shapovalov, like Edmund, enjoys time to prepare his heavy forehand blows. On top of that, Edmund has a wealth of experience compared to the inexperienced Shapovalov, who is yet to taste victory in a competitive Davis Cup match. Should Evans lose the fourth rubber I still see Edmund being too good for the young Canadian.
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