© Luis Mejia/ITF

Cameron Norrie celebrates his tie-clinching Davis Cup Qualifier win for Great Britain against Colombia.

Norrie Sends Great Britain Through To Davis Cup Finals Group Stage

Netherlands leads Slovakia 2-0; Finland and Argentina tied at 1-1

Cameron Norrie completed a Davis Cup double on Saturday to clinch victory for Great Britain against Colombia in a 2023 Qualifier.

After scoring the visitors' first point with a win against Nicolas Barrientos on Friday, the World No. 11 earned his team a decisive third point with 6-4, 6-4 victory against Nicolas Mejia on Day 2 of the tie. In Saturday's opening match in Cota, the doubles duo of Daniel Evans and Neal Skupski gave Great Britain a 2-1 lead with a 6-4, 6-4 result against Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah.

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"Feelings are one of immense pride for what the boys have done, and the support team," said British captain Leon Smith. "Everyone's committed a lot of time to this, but hats off to the players. They came down to Colombia, most straight from Melbourne, came earlier than we'd ever normally do for Davis Cup, which is a big commitment from them. But we did that to prepare best for what happened these past two days and it's definitely paid off.

"There's a lot of work that the players have done to be able to adapt in a short space of time, and they went out and they fought really hard... It needed a lot of grit and determination. The important thing is we got a win, which gives us a chance to keep being successful this year. Really looking forward to September now."

Norrie finished the job with a battling victory against Mejia, who scored his first Top 100 win against Daniel Evans in the tie's first rubber. The match sparked into life late in the opening set with three straight breaks of serve, the Briton claiming two of them to lead 5-4. 

The 27-year-old drove home his advantage by serving out the set to love, a feat he repeated when serving out the match behind the lone break in set two. Norrie saved four of five break points in the match, aided by a 67 per cent first-serve percentage and a 83 per cent win rate on first-serve points.

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Evans/Skupski did not face a break point in their victory against longtime partners Cabal/Farah, who have won 19 tour-level titles as a pair. The Britons claimed an instant break in sets one and two, advantages they saw home with relative ease until the final game of both sets.

Pushed to deuce in their final service game of each set, Evans/Skupski denied their opponents — and the Colombian crowd — a lifeline as they stood tall in the crucial late moments.

"It was a very good performance by me and Evo today," said Skupski. "I thought we stayed calm in big situations today and we stuck together, always communicating, always trying to feed off each other... We tried to use the bench as much as possible. We have a great team and a great environment from the coaching staff and also through the players."

"We had good energy. We are good friends," added Evans, who bounced back after his loss to Mejia. "He is No. 1 [in the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Rankings] and took care of the rest."

With victory in the tie, Great Britain booked its place as one of 16 teams in the group stage of the Davis Cup Finals by Rakuten, to be played in September after the US Open. Other teams already confirmed for the group stage include 2022 champions Canada, 2022 finalists Australia, wild cards Spain and Italy, and qualifiers France, the United States, Switzerland, Serbia and Sweden.

Netherlands In Charge After 'Crazy' Day 1
The Netherlands will take a 2-0 lead into the final day of their Qualifier against Slovakia.

After the late withdrawal due to injury of his No. 1 player, Botic van de Zandschulp, Dutch captain Paul Haarhuis said he wouldn’t be surprised if the scores were level after the opening day. But much to his delight, Tallon Griekspoor and Tim van Rijthoven both delivered stunning singles victories for their country.

Griekspoor beat Lukas Klein 7-6(6), 2-6, 6-4 before Van Rijthoven upset Alex Molcan 7-6(6), 5-7, 6-3 to put the hosts in firm control of the tie. 

In the university town of Groningen, there was a pulsating atmosphere inside the MartiniPlaza, with fans dressed from head to toe in orange providing a colourful backdrop to the tennis. 

Griekspoor credited those supporters for helping him to win the day’s opening singles match. 

“It was an unbelievable match and a crazy atmosphere”, he said on court afterwards. “These guys are the best crowd I’ve ever played for. Every point they were there and they helped me through in the third set, so I can’t thank them enough.” 

Finland, Argentina All Square In Espoo
Finland and Argentina will go into the second and final day of their Qualifier with the tie level at 1-1.

The reason for that deadlock is Francisco Cerundolo’s 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(3) win against Otto Virtanen, which came in response to Emil Ruusuvuori’s 7-5, 6-3 victory over Pedro Cachin earlier in the day.

It all means there must be a sense of déjà vu for Finland, who found themselves in this exact position, inside the same Espoo Metro Arena, against Belgium last year. On that occasion, they won the doubles to move within one match of reaching the Davis Cup Finals for the first time ever, only to have their dreams dashed after losing both reverse singles matches.

That recent history, and how much it will be playing on the team’s mind, adds another layer of intrigue to what promises to be a fascinating deciding day.

If Finland are to break new ground in the competition, Ruusuvuori is likely to be the reason, and he performed his role to perfection on Saturday with a straight sets victory. While the slick indoor hard court suits his game, his opponent, Cachin, is much more comfortable on clay, and the Finnish No. 1 made the conditions count in his favour.

"My performance was very good I thought”, Ruusuvuori said afterwards. “It was very stable until 4-1 in the second set when I had a little bit of a drop. But I really liked my energy on court. Coming from Finland, we don’t get these full arenas too often and it's just a great feeling. That was the foal for me, to enjoy every minute, to take it in."