Despite being down triple match point and facing a potential crushing loss in the final match of the week, Dan Evans and Neal Skupski did not back down. They persevered, fueled by the cheers of the audience after each point, and managed to make an impressive comeback for what could be considered one of their most remarkable victories.
Great Britain made a remarkable comeback during the decisive doubles match and defeated France 2-1, securing their spot in the Davis Cup quarter-finals. Despite facing tough opponents like Australia and Switzerland, the team remained undefeated and finished at the top of their group.
Their success throughout has been defined by Evans’ passion and joy for Davis Cup tennis, with the world No 27 taking his excellent form into his singles matches while also pairing up with Skupski in doubles. The 33-year-old sealed Great Britain’s first point by recovering from a set down to defeat Arthur Fils 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 before Cameron Norrie was edged out 7-6 (5), 3-6, 7-5 by Ugo Humbert.
Evans and Skupski teamed up for the final doubles match against Mahut and Roger-Vasselin. In the intense third set, Evans faced three match points on his serve. However, the duo managed to turn things around and secure a remarkable victory with a score of 1-6, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (6). This win propels Great Britain into the next round of the Davis Cup, known as the “Final 8” knockout stage, which will be held in Málaga from November 21-26.
Evans described the experience as crazy, stating that he is confident playing singles but found the doubles match to be chaotic. He and his partner Neal continued to encourage each other, believing they had a chance to win.
Following a week of backlash concerning the competition’s structure, particularly the low attendance at matches between neutral countries, this event showcased the Davis Cup at its best. Two top-notch teams competed in front of a large, enthusiastic crowd. The sold-out crowd of 13,000 at Manchester’s first Davis Cup tie in 29 years set a new record in Great Britain.
The tie began with Evans’s first recovery as he suffered under Fils’ enormous serve and vicious, heavy forehand, trailing 6-3, 3-1 before drawing on the atmosphere as he neutralised the 19-year-old and switched the momentum. Despite him being the highest ranked singles player in action, Norrie’s difficult recent form was reflected in the decisive moments as a nervous final service game proved the difference between him and Humbert, the British No 1’s night ending with a double fault on match point.
As the match progressed, Evans and Skupski faced an uphill battle and a comeback seemed nearly impossible. However, they persevered and fought for every point. There was also a heated exchange between Evans and the opposing team’s bench as chaos ensued.
During the game that lasted for seven hours and 38 minutes, the team captain, Leon Smith, approached the DJ near the court and requested him to enhance his music selection to keep the audience entertained.
“Can you believe we’re in Manchester and not a single Oasis song has played?” exclaimed Evans, with a grin. “The DJ is attempting to hype up the crowd, but instead of using the music on his decks, he’s just flailing his arms around. Give us a break.”
In the last round, both teams effectively maintained their service games until Evans and Skupski faced difficulty due to the pressure of the score, falling behind 0-40 and facing three match points. Skupski stated, “We remained calm and focused on each point, taking it one at a time.”
Evans showed impressive serving skills as he and his partner won five consecutive points and avoided defeat when they were down 0-40. Skupski also had to face a fourth match point in their following service game, but he gathered his composure and maintained his cool. After a grueling three-hour match, they completed a remarkable comeback by winning a tense tiebreak in the final set.
Evans described the day as incredible and expressed that the feeling was beyond words. He also shared that it was an emotional experience, especially because he wanted to be with his teammates in the final. He acknowledged the pressure of potentially losing and the added weight of playing at home. Ultimately, he expressed immense pride in himself and his team.