Absent friends, and fans, can't halt Brit pack

It took a win over opponents who were not even ranked in the world's top 1,000 to complete it, but Britain's Davis Cup team finally ended the longest losing run in their history here yesterday. After five successive defeats, victory over Turkey in a relegation play-off ensured that it would be the visitors who will compete next season in Europe/Africa Zone Group Three, the lowest tier.

Ken Skupski and Colin Fleming, Nos 46 and No 47 respectively in the world doubles rankings, gave Leon Smith's team a match-winning 3-0 lead by beating Ergun Zorlu and Haluk Akkoyun 6-3 6-4 6-4. Given that the Turks are ranked Nos 1,134 and 1,136 in the world respectively it was no less than the home team should have expected, but after their humiliating loss against Lithuania four months ago nothing was being taken for granted.

While there will be no open-topped bus ride along the seafront to celebrate, the manner of Britain's victory, with only one set dropped in the first three rubbers, confirmed the impression that there is a good spirit within the squad and a shared sense of purpose under Smith, who is making his debut as captain.

"The feeling of losing five in a row obviously wasn't great," Smith said. "This is one step in the right direction, but it is only one. We realise that. We won't get carried away. The guys have done a great job here, but it is only one step. But I think you can see from the spirit on the court and on the bench that we're all really united in trying to improve things."

Eastbourne is packed at this time of the year, but the pier, beach and seafront concerts were clearly a greater attraction than a group of tennis players whose names – including those of the home team – would have been unfamiliar to most people.

Devonshire Park would no doubt have been more than half full if Andy Murray had been playing, but the world No 4 missed the tie in order to concentrate on his own schedule.

The Scot's decision still aggrieves some in British tennis, but many of the game's top players pick and choose their Davis Cup ties. Moreover, Murray's absence has given others the chance to play for their country and, even more importantly, to win matches. It is hard to see what Murray beating lowly-ranked opponents here would have achieved either for himself or for the national team.

In the absence of Murray, who had sent the team a good luck message, it had been down to Jamie Baker and James Ward to pave the way with singles victories on the opening day. Ward beat Marsel Ilhan, who is ranked 198 places ahead of him and was the highest ranked singles player in action here.

Fleming and Skupski are now regulars on the main ATP tour and their superiority was apparent from the start. Zorlu's ragged backhand would not look entirely out of place in one of Eastbourne's parks, while Akkoyun's serve always looked vulnerable.

The only time the Britons appeared in any sort of discomfort was in the sixth game of the first set, when a full-blooded Zorlu smash hit Skupski in the neck after the Liverpudlian had lost his footing. Skupski looked shaken – "I felt like I'd been shot," he said – but he recovered his composure.

One break of Zorlu's serve in the eighth game secured the first set. Akkoyun was broken at the start of the second, only for Skupski, who had not conceded a single point in his three previous service games, to drop his serve immediately afterwards. Akkoyun, however, was broken again at 4-4, after which Skupski served out for the set.

The Turks never let their heads drop, but at 3-3 in the third set Akkoyun was broken again. Fleming served out for victory at 5-3, Skupski hitting the winning volley.

Victory means that Britain will stay in Europe/Africa Zone Group Two next season. Their next match will be in March, against opponents to be decided by a draw in September. Might Murray play in the next tie? "When he wants to come back in the team of course we'll love that because he's one of the world's best players," Smith said.

Suggested Topics
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
football
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
News
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
i100
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel
travel
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
health
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform