During a memorable week at the Davis Cup in Manchester, Andy Murray achieved a remarkable comeback against Leandro Riedi from Switzerland on Friday. His win continues to showcase his exceptional career in the competition, as he holds a stellar 33-3 record in singles matches over the past 18 years.
His greatness is evident, but it also reflects the state of British tennis during his time in power. For Britain to succeed as a team, he had to consistently excel on the court. When he didn’t, Britain faced defeat.
The events in Manchester over the past week have shown significant changes. A prominent theme was the impressive depth of talent within the British team, which has grown over recent years. This was evident as both elite singles and doubles players performed exceptionally well by working together.
Each member of the team contributed to their success this year. Despite facing a challenging February qualifying match on clay and at a high altitude in Colombia, Cameron Norrie led the British team with two singles victories. However, in Manchester, Norrie was the sole member of the team who did not win a rubber.
Regardless, all the other players contributed. Andy Murray and Jack Draper both fought hard to secure singles victories from a losing position. Neal Skupski also displayed impressive skill in two crucial doubles matches, especially during the chaotic Sunday evening where he and Dan Evans saved four match points before ultimately winning the tie against France.
No other player surpassed Evans in contribution, as his exceptional leadership highlights his recent success in his career’s later stages. Evans has consistently expressed his love for the Davis Cup and has been a steadfast member of the team for 14 years.
However, he did not always have the ability to win.
During half of his career, the 33-year-old was ranked outside of the top 100 and lacked discipline, leading to significant underachievement. However, he has since undergone a remarkable transformation and is now a highly skilled top-30 player in both singles and doubles, with the ability to compete against anyone. This improvement is both impressive and commendable.
Evans’s success also shows the importance of the Davis Cup and its ability, both in the UK and around the world, to reach areas not served by the grand slam tournaments. Evans’s dreams of becoming a professional tennis player were consolidated by the various Davis Cup ties held around Birmingham during his youth, not Wimbledon.
“I was inspired to start playing tennis because of the Davis Cup,” Evans stated on Sunday. “I have vivid memories of watching matches between America, Portugal, and Thailand, all taking place in Birmingham. It was one of my first experiences with the sport. Of course, Wimbledon was also a big influence, but it was far from where I lived. Playing in the Davis Cup for my country has always been my ultimate goal, and it remains that way.”
In the last ten years, there have been numerous Davis Cup matches held in Glasgow, Scotland. It was a wise decision for the LTA to focus on Scotland due to the significant accomplishments of Andy and Jamie Murray. However, it is surprising that Manchester has not hosted a tie in 29 years.
At long last, Manchester had the chance to host and they rose to the occasion. The AO Arena was packed with 13,000 spectators on Sunday, making it the largest Davis Cup crowd in Great Britain’s 123-year history. In the stands of the Manchester venue, a young player found motivation from watching the British team struggle before ultimately triumphing.
On Tuesday afternoon, the draw for the Davis Cup quarter-finals will take place. Great Britain is set to play a challenging match in Málaga, regardless of the opponent. They will either face Serbia led by Novak Djokovic or Italy, which may have Jannik Sinner and Matteo Berrettini on their team.
British players participating in the Davis Cup have found a new source of inspiration during the fall season. As the end of a demanding and exhausting year approaches, it can be challenging for athletes to stay motivated and maintain their energy. However, with the added stakes of this prestigious tournament, they have a greater purpose driving them forward.
The skill level of the top four players in singles creates a competitive atmosphere with no clear winner. As the final months approach, they will be aware that their performance and current status will greatly impact their involvement in the Málaga matches – whether as a player or a spectator.