Evans & Murray's Furious Comeback Ensures Great Britain Finish With Win
Daniel Evans and Jamie Murray rallied from a set-and-a-break down on Thursday to beat Taylor Fritz and John Isner 6-7(3), 7-5, 10-8, clinching Great Britain's 2-1 win against the United States at the ATP Cup.
"We were just hustling. We just kept saying, 'Just try to get the ball back in play, start the point', and tried to use our skills after that," Murray said. "We played an amazing point to break back at 4-2, got a bit of momentum and played a great [Match] Tie-break, which is ultimately what it comes down to so many times."
Victory had kept Great Britain's semi-final hopes alive in Group C, but they were ended later on Thursday when Canada defeated Germany 2-0 to win Group C to set up a last four meeting with reigning champion Russia.
In a tight match, British hopes were looking dim when they fell behind by a break in the second set against the big-serving Americans. But Evans and Murray, who also won a deciding doubles tie against Germany earlier in the week, never stopped battling. .
After clawing back to take the second set, they got off to a perfect start in the Match Tie-break by earning a mini-break against Isner's serve thanks to a Murray chip lob return. They would win the first six points of the decider and although the Americans rallied to come within a point of levelling, it was too late.
"Jamie talked me through the whole match. I don't call anything, he calls everything, I just go with it," Evans said. "It makes my job a lot easier when I have him everywhere, so I just run around basically and hopefully he mops it up."
Fritz forced the deciding doubles match with a gritty 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-1 victory against Briton Cameron Norrie.
The American now leads the pair's ATP Head2Head series 5-4 after an impressive bounceback in the third set. Fritz has spoken this week about how he has crafted his forehand into more of a weapon, and it paid dividends in the decider.
"Cam and I have played so many times, it's actually pretty ridiculous. Every single time it's just an absolute battle," Fritz said. "I know that he can go into these modes where he will just not miss a ball and he kind of did that in the second and I was getting pretty frustrated with the shots he was coming up with.
"I had to just let it go in the third set, reset and try to serve a little better so he didn't get so many chances to hit those unreal shots and I upped my level a lot in the third and played really well."
Fritz broke immediately in the third set by attacking Norrie's backhand. He did not face a break point in the third to close out his win after one hour and 58 minutes.
To start the tie, in the No. 2 singles, Evans completed a sweep of his three Group C singles matches by toppling Isner 6-4, 7-6(3).
Evans has been dominant at No. 2 singles throughout the week, winning all six sets in his matches. The 31-year-old withstood Isner's 16 aces, won 87 per cent of his service points and did not face a break point in his one-hour, 35-minute victory.
"You've got to be ready to not touch the ball a few times. I think in the second set I didn't win many points on his serve, so it was difficult, but you know you're going to get a few chances if you get the ball back and that's the nature of that match. It's great to come through and set the tone, not just for my match, but for the tie. We needed this one, so it was important."
Evans broke early in the first set to storm ahead and he controlled baseline rallies throughout by attacking the American's backhand with depth and preventing Isner from crushing too many forehands. The Briton earned an immediate mini-break on the first point of the second-set tie-break by hitting a dipping backhand passing shot that Isner was unable to handle. After the 36-year-old hit a final forehand return into the net, Evans lifted his arms in celebration.
"It was really important to concentrate early, focus," Evans said. "We don't really play this early that often, so I got up extra early this morning and really made a conscious effort to come out of the blocks."