Evans' superb start lifts Britain but Ward slips up

 

It has taken time for Dan Evans to show the maturity to match his undoubted ability, but the 21-year-old from Birmingham produced the finest performance of his career yesterday to give Britain's Davis Cup team a flying start in their Europe Africa Zone Group One tie against Slovakia.

Evans, given his chance because of Andy Murray's unavailability, bridged a gap of 211 places in the world rankings to beat Lukas Lacko 6-3, 7-5, 7-5 at the Braehead Arena in Glasgow. However, with James Ward losing 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 to Martin Klizan in the evening's second rubber, the tie is finely balanced going into today's doubles, in which Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins meet Filip Polasek and Michal Mertinak. The reverse singles will be played tomorrow.

If the 1-1 scoreline after the opening day was no great surprise, few would have predicted that Evans would be the man to put Leon Smith's team on the board. The world No 276 was facing an opponent who played in his first tour final six days ago and reached the third round of last month's Australian Open.

Lacko, however, never got to grips with the clever variations in Evans' game. Using his sliced backhand to good effect and approaching the net with confidence, Evans kept forcing the world No 65 into mistakes. It was not until the third set that the Briton missed a volley, by which time Lacko looked a beaten man.

Although Evans has always been a good shot-maker, his attitude and work ethic have been called into question in the past. At one stage the Lawn Tennis Association withdrew his funding, while his previous Davis Cup record – he had lost all four of his previous rubbers – hardly inspired optimism.

Evans, however, dominated Lacko from the start, breaking serve in the second game and serving out to take the first set. In the second the Briton twice fought back from a break down and in the third he kept his nerve despite letting slip a 3-1 lead. When he served for the match Evans missed an easy volley at 30-30, but then hit three successive unreturned serves to secure victory. "It was obviously the best win of my career," Evans said. "Leon told me to go out and have fun. He probably didn't expect the team to be leading 1-0 after the first singles."

Ward, though, was unable to maintain the home team's momentum against Klizan, ranked 38 places higher than him at No 120 in the world. Ward worked hard to level the match in the second set and made an early break in the fourth, only for Klizan to secure the tie-break 7-3.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
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.

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition