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Dan Evans beats Denis Shapovalov in Britain’s Davis Cup opener

Dan Evans celebrates during his win over Denis Shapovalov in the Davis Cup tie between Canada and Great Britain in Ottawa
Image: Dan Evans celebrates during his win over Denis Shapovalov in the Davis Cup

Dan Evans played the role of British No 1 with aplomb to beat 17-year-old Denis Shapovalov for his first ever victory in a live rubber in the Davis Cup World Group.

It was more than three years since Evans' last win of any kind in the competition but he maintained the momentum of the best period of his career to triumph 6-3 6-3 6-4 and give the visitors a 1-0 lead over Canada in Ottawa.

Wimbledon junior champion Shapovalov is undoubtedly a talent for the future but his first best-of-five-sets match was rather a chastening experience in which he made 39 unforced errors.

Shapovalov and Evans at the draw ceremony
Image: Shapovalov and Evans at the draw ceremony

Evans found himself thrust not just into top spot in the absence of Andy Murray but into the position of heavy favourite against a teenage rookie with nothing to lose.

But Evans, fresh from a run to the fourth round of the Australian Open that elevated him to 45 in the world rankings, made the 189-place gap in their rankings look accurate.

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The 26-year-old said: "That's what I tried to do, just keep it rolling. It's tough mentally to keep going and going but it's the start of the year and I have to keep going until I get a week off when I get home.

"I stayed focused, played my game. Obviously it would have been easier with Andy but I'm really happy we're 1-0 up and hopefully Kyle [Edmund] can get another point on the board now."

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Evans put Great Britain 1-0 ahead in the Davis Cup tie
Image: Evans put Great Britain 1-0 ahead in the Davis Cup tie

Evans' plan was to seize the initiative from the off and not allow Shapovalov to be the aggressor but the work was done for him as his opponent was wild in the extreme in the early stages.

The Brit looked comfortable in his role, his nerves only betrayed by four double faults in the opening three games.

Shapovalov grew into the match, feeding off the lively crowd at the ice hockey-turned-tennis arena.

In the fifth game of the second set the Canadian followed a complete air shot with a ripped backhand winner and forced two break points but Evans quickly shut down the threat.

Denis Shapovalov will play Dan Evans in the Davis Cup
Image: Shapovalov lost in three sets at the Davis Cup

And in the following game he showed the class that earned him wins over Marin Cilic and Bernard Tomic in Melbourne at the Australian Open, a super lob and deft volley helping him to the crucial break.

Their only previous meeting had been a tight affair at a Challenger event last year but, although Shapovalov continued to fight his hardest, a comeback never looked on the cards.

And the 250 fans who have made the trip from Britain were able to celebrate a job very professionally done when a desperate Shapovalov forehand bounced into the net after an hour and 50 minutes.

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