After the Herculean efforts from Andy Murray to draw the title holders level with the visitors, it looked as though the switch in of Leonardo Mayer would not cause Dan Evans any issues.
It was a bright start by the Brummie, showing a lot of versatility with almost Murray-esque defence and solid striking from the baseline. Certainly the key in the first set was how well Evans was reading Mayer’s serve.
The Argentinean had been the weaker of the pairing alongside Juan Martin Del Potro in the Saturday doubles and it looked as though the sense of occasion was weighing heavy on him as an early break
Evans just stayed that nudge ahead, to take the first set and hope was high but as soon as Mayer’s serve started to fire, it swiftly became a different story. It was his turn for an early break and to keep that advantage for the second set.
From there the momentum was firmly with the visitors. Mayer broke Evans at the start of the third set before adding insult to injury with a double break cushion before rounding out the third set.
Evans put up one more epic fight, battling long and hard in the first game of the fourth set, saving three break points but it was just a single break mid way through the fourth set that did for him, in an otherwise far more competitive set. Mayer would send the visitors into a fifth Davis Cup final with a serve to love.
Evans would ruefully admit that once Mayer had got going, it was difficult to make much of an impression.
He said: “I had a few chances just to sort of get into the match to be honest. After the first set I wasn’t in the match.
“I felt a lot of pressure on my serve That was it really – he served unbelievable. Getting the ball back into the court was tough. When it did, he actually played pretty well from the back, I thought he was aggressive – took a lot of time away from me.”
After such an effort from Murray to keep Britain in the tie, and also acknowledging the efforts of the backroom team who combine to make the Davis Cup squad all that it has become, the disappointment bit hard.
He continued: “[I’ll] take a few days to sort of think what happened through. It’s not a nice feeling really. Last time that happened was Lithuania I think, so yeah it’s pretty raw right now for everyone as well. You do feel like you’re the one who lost the match.”
GB Captain, Leon Smith, was quick to dispel any negativity around the loss, although he acknowledged that we have been spoiled with the strong performances of the team.
He said: “It feels rough huh? And so it should. You know we’ve worked really hard to get to this point again but as you say we’ve had great times in Davis Cup. When you reflect back on it we’ve had a hell of a run. Our team’s in much better shape than it was a few years ago.
“And we’ll continue to enjoy the weekends. Might not be able to go on another run like that over the last couple of years but you know next year is another opportunity to try and keep building the team. It gives players opportunities to play in what is an amazing event.”
In specific response to Evans’ comments about feeling as though he let the side down, he said: “It’s a tennis match and you went out.. all we ask for the players when they walk out the locker rooms is give your best effort – that’s all. Fight for every point, chase everything down. Did he do it – yeah of course he did. He did it great. the guy just played too good today.
“I’m really proud – when I look at the team sheet now and see the rankings? So much better and that’s the thing I just want to keep impressing on everyone. This is in a much better situation for week in week out for all of us.”
The draw for next year’s Davis Cup will be made on Thursday.
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