Good Evans – but Nor­rie blows it in front of own crowd

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - SPORT -

Dan Evans put a painful 18 months be­hind him by mak­ing a spec­tac­u­lar re­turn to Davis Cup ac­tion yes­ter­day.

The 28-year-old beat Uzbek­istan’s De­nis Is­tomin in a five-set thriller in Glas­gow to put Great Bri­tain ahead in their world group play-off.

How­ever, that lead was wiped out in sen­sa­tional style by world num­ber 434 Jurabek Ka­ri­mov, who came from two sets down to beat an out-of-sorts Cameron Nor­rie in Fri­day’s sec­ond five-set­ter.

The 23-year-old raced through the first set in 19 min­utes and had a match point in the third-set tiebreak, but ended up go­ing down 0-6, 5-7, 7-6 (8-6), 6-2, 6-2.

It was there­fore just as well Evans had bat­tled to the big­gest vic­tory of his come­back, af­ter which he ad­mit­ted he had se­ri­ous doubts about whether he could get his ca­reer back on track.

Nor­rie said: “I guess it just makes the tie more in­ter­est­ing.

“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.”

Evans only re­turned to the court in April, a cou­ple of miles down the road at Scot­stoun Leisure Cen­tre, in fact, af­ter serv­ing a oneyear ban for test­ing pos­i­tive for co­caine.

He has played mainly sec­ond-tier Chal­lenger events in a bid to get his rank­ing up, but he got the call-up to the Great Bri­tain team with Andy Mur­ray and Kyle Ed­mund still ab­sent.

Evans looked down and out when Is­tomin, the world num­ber 60, raced away with the third set to take a 2-1 lead.

But gutsy Evans, whose last five-set­ter was two years ago at the US Open, some­how fought back to win 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 0-6, 6-4, 7-5.

He said: “Did I doubt I could come back? For sure. I still have mo­ments now. I’m nowhere near back there yet, I’m only 200 in the world.

“I still have doubts now if I’ll get back but that’s pretty nor­mal. Days like to­day make you see light at the end of the tun­nel.

“I had to live a pretty bor- ing, shel­tered life. No real ex­is­tence or im­por­tance. I didn’t do much I just had to play sec­ond fid­dle.

“I didn’t have any­thing to do be­cause I couldn’t play ten­nis. I would just wait at home for my girl­friend to come back from work and that was it re­ally.”

The match was al­most Mur­ray-es­que in its drama, a roller­coaster of a bat­tle and Davis Cup ten­nis at its finest, even though the change in the com­pe­ti­tion’s for­mat next year means this tie is not a rel­e­ga­tion de­cider.

The re­vamp into a World Cup-style tour­na­ment also means that the Emi­rates Arena, the scene of so many mem­o­rable Great Bri­tain vic­to­ries in re­cent years, may not host it again for some time.

On this ev­i­dence that is a shame, and was not lost on Scot Mur­ray, who sent a good luck mes­sage which was played on the big screen, say­ing: “Un­for­tu­nately this might be the last time we get to play in Glas­gow as a team, I hope you all make the most of it.”

The tie is level go­ing into to­day’s dou­bles, where Jamie Mur­ray and Dom In­glot will face Is­tomin and San­jar Fayziev.

WIN­NING FEEL­ING: Dan Evans cel­e­brates his vic­tory to give Great Bri­tain a 1-0 Davis Cup lead in Glas­gow yes­ter­day

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