Great Britain's Dan Evans secures five-set marathon Davis Cup win against Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan rally to level the tie at 1-1 after Cameron Norrie was beaten by world No 434 Jurabek Karimov in another five-setter
By Raz Mirza
Last Updated: 14/09/18 10:52pm
Dan Evans won the opening rubber of his Davis Cup play-off match against Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan in five thrilling sets.
Evans, playing for Great Britain for the first time in over a year following his 12-month drugs ban, won 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 0-6 6-4 7-5 in over four hours of tension-filled action in Glasgow on Friday.
"It's good to be back, especially here in Glasgow," said Evans. "We've had so many good ties here. To play that match, in what might be the last tie here, is pretty fitting, so thank you everyone for that.
"It's been tough but everybody who supported me, who has been right behind me from the time I started back, I can only thank them. Days like today don't come around very often. Who knows, I may not get in the team next time, so I have to remember this and enjoy it."
Evans edged a tight opening set against world No 60 Istomin, a seasoned Davis Cup campaigner playing in his 75th match in the competition.
At 4-4 in the next, Evans' serve - which at one stage had hit 23 unanswered points - let him down, two double-faults handing Istomin a break and subsequently the set.
Istomin also has a victory over Novak Djokovic, in five sets at last year's Australian Open, to his name and the 32-year-old quickly turned three games into nine in a row as he raced through the third set 6-0, while Evans began to flag, having not played a best-of-five match since May 2017.
Lifted by a noisy Glasgow crowd, the 28-year-old matched Istomin before breaking to love in the 10th game to take the match into a deciding set shoot-out.
There were four breaks of serve in the fifth, but it was Evans who manoeuvred himself into a match-winning position in the 12th game as he converted with his sixth match point to wrap up a huge win.
In Friday's second rubber, British No 2 Cameron Norrie won the opening two sets against Jurabek Karimov, only for his opponent to recover and to claim a gutsy 0-6 5-7 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 6-2 victory.
"I guess it just makes the tie more interesting," said Norrie.
"I'll try to forget that as soon as possible but it hurts a lot because I'm not playing for myself, I'm playing for the team."
Jamie Murray and Dom Inglot take on Sanjar Fayziev and Denis Istomin in the doubles on Saturday before Norrie kicks off Sunday's action against Istomin, with Evans and Karimov then rounding off the weekend's action.
With the format of the Davis Cup changing next year, the tie is no longer a relegation decider, but Great Britain need to win to be seeded in February's preliminary round.
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