Evans stuns Russia to complete historic GB comeback

By Philip James

Dan Evans (GBR) def Evgeny Donskoy (RUS) 6-4, 6-4, 6-1

There were jubilant scenes in Coventry this afternoon as Dan Evans stunned Evgeny Donskoy to complete Team Aegon GB’s comeback.

Victory in the tie looked an impossible task after Evans and James Ward both lost five-set marathon matches on Friday to leave Russia 2-0 up with three rubbers left to play.

But Colin Fleming and Jonathan Marray’s victory in the doubles rubber on Sunday provided a ray of hope before Ward defeated Dmitry Tursunov in five sets to set up the decider.

Evans, ranked 325th in the world, then played out of his skin against an underwhelming Donskoy, making this only the second time in history that Britain has won from being 2-0 down in the Davis Cup.

The victory earns Great Britain a place in the 16-nation World Group Play-offs from September 13-15, the draw for which will be made April 10.

Andy Murray has confirmed that he has scheduled himself to play in that tie though it will be harsh on the player who is dropped.

Donskoy looked not to have recovered mentally or physically from his match on Friday when he had fought back from two sets and a break down.

The Russian played passively and conservatively throughout whereas Evans was aggressive and again displayed his feel for the fast hard courts, local to where he lives, coming to the net often and successfully.

The Birmingham-born 22-year-old started comfortably and broke halfway through the first set before comfortably holding his next two serves for the set.

The British number six was soon a break up in the second set, taking the forth breakpoint of the third game to take full control.

It was not to be plain sailing however, and a slight dip in Evan’s play opened the door for his opponent.

Donskoy reeled off three games on the trot to get back on serve and had break points to make it four in a row and go up a break himself.

Evans dug deep to stop the streak and save serve before then stepping up his own game to break the Russian with a thumping cross-court forehand return

Evans was now back in his stride, running Donskoy all over the court and easily serving out the second set.

The Russian was beginning to seem more and more despondent, and was broken immediately at the start of the third set.

It was from exactly this position that Donskoy, ranked 80th, had rallied against Ward on Friday but there was to be no repeat as he could barely register a point.

He did battle back from 0-40 down trying to stop the double break, but he could not stop Evans capitalising on his forth break point and the match was all but over.

Evans did not take his foot off the pedal, running out to win with surprising ease 6-4 6-4 6-1 and complete the comeback which seemed so unlikely on Friday evening.

The only other time Britain has successfully won from 2-0 down was in 1930, against Germany when the team included Bunny Austin.

In the end, it was a sign of the comfort of Evans’ victory that much discussion was had as to why both Evans and Ward cannot put in these kind of performances on tour.

There is now four months for them to focus on the tour and distinguish themselves as the player who should play alongside Murray in September.