Dan Evans reckons a slow court wrecked his chances of giving Great Britain a fast start at the Davis Cup on Wednesday night. The British No 2 lost the curtain-raiser to the USA’s Tommy Paul after two and a half of gruelling tennis to leave Leon Smith’s team up against it but insisted that court conditions at The Emirates Arena didn’t help the home cause.
After coming out on the wrong side of 4-6,6-4, 4-6 thriller to World No 29 Paul, Evans praised the Glasgow crowd for doing all it could to help him over the line but was adamant the pace of the court didn’t help.
The 32-year-old said: “It was a good match but a very slow court. It took a lot to get used to the balls. I think we were the first people to hit on it. Then obviously you throw in all the match environment. It’s always a bit slower when you’re playing, as well, when it’s an actual match.
“It is what it is. It’s a hard, physical court to play on. But it’s nothing to do with the court why I didn’t win the match. I had my chances and came up short. There was nothing wrong with my tennis today. I just didn’t take my chances I think. Missed two forehands on break points, if I remember rightly.
“I think it’s nice (the court) for the fans. I think they saw some good tennis. I don’t know how long the rallies were, can’t really remember much of it. It felt like a good match.
“I played good tennis. Just couldn’t get over the line. Just looking back at it, I think the crowd did a great job to get me back in the match. If I got hold of that first set, he was up against it. When it got to a set all, I felt I had the momentum but I just couldn’t nick the break. It’s difficult. It’s a tough one.”
Paul was thrilled to win his first Davis Cup match for his country – and to claim his first victory over Evans, with whom he agreed on the court conditions.
The American said: “Conditions were very slow. Some of the slowest I’ve probably played in. I don’t know if it’s just the court or the balls or the combination of the two. “Points get extended and it’s hard to hit winners. Frustrating at times, but also probably more fun for the fans to watch.
“I mean, at the end of the day that’s probably what it’s all about. I’m having fun. I was happy to get my first win over him, especially at Davis Cup.”
It’s been four years since Glasgow hosted the Davis Cup and although there was disappointment that Andy Murray was selected for the singles – Cam Norrie took on Taylor Fritz in the second match – the Scot was named with Joe Salisbury for the doubles.
The usual raucous atmosphere associated with The Emirates on nights like this was muted before the start with a minute’s silence for Queen Elizabeth 11 being observed and no music played in the build-up.
But the longer the match went, the louder the crowd got and the place erupted when Evans, who lost the first set in 50 minutes, levelled the contest to take it into a decider. Paul made the breakthrough to move 5-3 up but Evans produced the shot of the night, an outrageous lob at the end of a gruelling rally to claw himself back into the contest.
That was as good as it got for the Brit, though. Paul grabbed the next game and the match to win 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 and leave GB with a mountain to climb.